Big rig takes out fire hydrant, damages truck, house

By: Bridget Jones Journal Staff Writer
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An 18-wheeler caused significant damage in an Auburn neighborhood Thursday morning. At 5 a.m. the Auburn Fire Department, Auburn Police Department and Placer County Water Agency responded to Belmont Drive at Woodcrest Way. Oklahoma resident Douglas Vestal, 48, the driver of an 18-wheeler big rig truck with a 58-foot trailer was traveling on Belmont and trying to reach Gum Lane, according to Lucas Rogers, a firefighter with the Auburn Fire Department. “His GPS took him up that road to get him to the warehouse he was supposed to go to, which was totally the wrong way,” Rogers said. Vestal was trying to back up when he hit a fence and a fire hydrant. Vestal also hit a pick-up truck, which smashed into a garage door and the side of a house, Rogers said. “He got stuck and was trying to back out and didn’t have enough room to do it on his own,” Rogers said. “We had to shut the whole street off to the neighborhood.” One home at the corner of Belmont and Woodcrest received the most damage. Resident Dave Stonum said his truck could be totaled, and he needs to repair his garage and the side of his house. According to Rogers, no one was hurt in the accident. Sgt. Michael Garlock, of the Auburn Police Department, said the officer who responded to the scene estimated the damage could be between $5,000 and $10,000. Stonum said, especially if his truck is totaled, that the damage costs could be a lot higher. Stonum said he woke up to the sound of the big rig. “It was about 5 o’clock,” he said. “I woke up to hear a truck in the front. He was stopping and trying to turn.” Stonum said he saw the driver hit his neighbor’s fence. “By the time I got out here to observe what was going on … he was trying to back down Belmont Drive,” he said. “Before I could get to him, he struck my truck and pushed it into my garage door.” The truck then took out his landscaping and the corner of his house, Stonum said. A couple of thoughts were going through Stonum’s mind at the time of the incident, he said. “Actually it happened so quickly that my only thought was No. 1, if he was going to come through the house, and No. 2, to stop his actions safely,” Stonum said. Stonum said Vestal seemed to be acting normally after the accident. Stonum said one of his major concerns is that Belmont Drive doesn’t have a “Not a through street” sign or a sign prohibiting trucks of a certain length. Stonum said he thinks these signs could prevent future accidents. Garlock said the only access from Belmont to Gum is a fire access. Rogers said a major concern at the scene was shutting the fire hydrant off so it didn’t flood the street, and the Placer County Water Agency had to shut off service to the neighborhood. Garlock said Vestal has not been charged with anything and was not issued a citation. “He will be responsible for the damages caused by the collision,” he said. Reach Bridget Jones at