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Published May 17, 2011, 02:18 PM

Car Runs Over Dog, Plows into Duluth Home

Marian O’Neill had just put her two bichon frise dogs, LuLu and Lucy, on a leash in the front yard for one last time before bedtime early Monday when she heard an awful sound.

By: John Myers, Duluth News Tribune

Marian O’Neill had just put her two bichon frise dogs, LuLu and Lucy, on a leash in the front yard for one last time before bedtime early Monday when she heard an awful sound.

“I heard a very loud boom, then a crash and then nothing,” said O’Neill, who lives at 211 N. 34th Ave. W. in Duluth.

She hurried back to the front door to see that the 20-foot-tall Colorado blue spruce both dogs had been tied to was gone — cut off at the stump by a speeding car that then plowed into the house next door.

The car had smashed into the home of John Robich with such force that it blew out the windows of his front porch, which ended up resting on the car. Most other windows in the house were cracked from the impact.

“I was just about asleep when the whole house shook with a big ka-boom. I didn’t know what it was,” Robich said. “I know it was right at 1 a.m., because the clock fell and the battery came out and it stopped right then.”

Robich immediately called 911 even as O’Neill’s son, Roy, raced out to the crunched car and found a 40-year-old Duluth woman, at first unconscious, at the wheel. The woman eventually came to, but it took firefighters more than 30 minutes to free her. Rescuers had to jack the house off the car to get her out, Robich said.

The woman was taken to St. Luke’s hospital and treated for what appeared to be minor injuries, said Duluth police spokesman Jim Hansen. The accident remains under investigation and no decision has been made about charges.

O’Neill then turned her attention to her dogs. Lulu was fine and “didn’t have a scratch,” she said. But Lucy, found under the car, died despite the efforts of a Minnesota State Patrol officer who rushed the limp dog to a local veterinary clinic. “They were sisters. They were on the same leash,” O’Neill said.

O’Neill said she had seen the same car with its headlights on, a four-door Lexus, parked in the back parking lot of Stadium Lanes, across 34th Avenue West, when she tied up the dogs. The car apparently rocketed across the avenue, broke off a street sign at the corner and left ruts in her yard before shearing the 12-inch-diameter tree and hitting Robich’s house.

It appeared to those at the scene later Monday that the car must have accelerated the entire way, and some speculated that the accelerator may have stuck. Hansen said no information on the crash investigation was available Monday afternoon.

Myers is a reporter at the Duluth News Tribune, owned by Forum Communications, which also owns WDAZ

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