07/11/12 — Driver loses control, hits neighbor's home

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Driver loses control, hits neighbor's home

By John Joyce
Published in News on July 11, 2012 1:46 PM

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The home of Mount Olive resident Ronnie Flanagan was damaged Tuesday when his neighbor, 71-year-old James Whitman, lost control of his vehicle and struck the house. Damages to the home were estimated at more than $10,000.

Kelly Springs Road in Mount Olive played host to a neighborhood get-together of a different sort Tuesday.

James Whitman, 71, of 150 Kelly Springs Road, left his house in the early afternoon to visit his wife at a nursing home.

But just three-tenths of a mile down the street, he lost control of his vehicle and crashed into the home of neighbor Ronnie Flanagan.

State Highway Patrol Trooper A.R. Fowler said Whitman has limited use of his arm as a result of a childhood illness and simply lost control of the car, resulting in the crash.

Whitman's Chevy Venture struck a curb near Flanagan's driveway and he apparently stepped on the gas rather than the brake. These events, combined with Whitman's inability to turn the wheel rapidly, led to the subsequent collision, Fowler said.

Dudley Fire Department Engine 2 was dispatched to the scene, but no injuries were reported.

On the scene Tuesday, Fowler said Whitman was "fully aware and cognitive," so he returned the man to his home and left him on his own recognizance.

"He retained his license and was free to go as he pleased," the trooper said.

In addition to the estimated $10,000 worth of damage to Flanagan's home and $2,000 in damage to Whitman's vehicle, an AT&T telephone box was struck, knocking out phone service to surrounding residents.

This is the second time in recent years that Flanagan's property has been struck by a vehicle.

The first driver, however, did not make it past the fence, Fowler said.