Church official: Lack of injuries in SUV crash 'miraculous'

SAN DIEGO - Surveillance video shows the moment a Honda Pilot SUV plowed into the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego in Ocean Beach weeks after a pricey remodeling project was completed.

Communications director Hannah Wilder was working on the second floor at the moment of impact.

"There was definitely a jolt you felt and heard this boom," said Wilder. "I thought it was a bomb, actually."

Surveillance video from a neighbor's home shows how the crash unfolded just after 9 a.m. Monday.

The SUV, which was pulling into a parking space, never slowed and smashed into the back of the diocese.

No one was in the room. Ten people were in other parts of the building. Wilder says the driver, a longtime volunteer, got confused and pressed the gas pedal instead of the brake.    

Neighbor Rick Wilson was one of several who came running and got the driver out of the SUV.

"She was on the verge of losing her composure," said neighbor Nick Martin.

He says she became emotional because of the damage to the church.

"I said, 'You're OK. It's just a car … It's just a wall. They're going to fix it,'" said Martin.

It is a painful fix. The Episcopal Diocese of San Diego recently moved to the location on Sunset Cliffs Boulevard, completing a $1.2 million renovation in June.  

Wilder says while the damage is disappointing, she is grateful.

"Thank God nobody was there," she said. "We often have morning meetings there, but today there was nobody in there and on the outside. Often times we have volunteers around … I don't believe in coincidences. It's miraculous nobody was hurt."

Church officials say both the diocese and the driver had insurance.

A damage estimate has yet to be released.           

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