4 people displaced after car crashes into Northampton apartment building
NORTHAMPTON, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - There are calls for help from the community after a hit-and-run crash into an apartment building in Northampton left four people and their two pets without a place to live.
“We just heard this huge crash. It sounded like everything in the world had been destroyed all at once. By the time we ran downstairs, it was just a giant hole in our house,” said Danielle Brita of Northampton.
Brita and Jake Thayer were on the third floor of their Northampton apartment on Hampton Avenue on Friday night when a car slammed into the building, crashed through the living room wall, and left behind hundreds of dollars in damages.
“We managed to get some help from the Red Cross yesterday and they were incredibly helpful. We don’t have to pay rent for this month, which is nice, but they kind of just told us take your rent money and go find somewhere, which has been a little difficult finding housing for four people for an unknown amount of time. We don’t know if this is going to be days, weeks, months, or anything like that,” Brita explained.
Luckily, nobody was injured, but Brita told Western Mass News that their displacement fees will not be covered by property management, so she and her roommates have set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for temporary housing.
“We really don’t like to ask for things. We kind of just want to do our own thing, but it was immediately apparent we were getting zero help in the short term,” Thayer said.
“Finding an attorney and asking legal questions has also been quite difficult and we’re just kind of on our own for that,” Brita added.
The driver of the car who hit their apartment fled the scene, but was found by Northampton Police and arrested.
“The suspect faces charges of OUI liquor, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, failure to stop for police, and leaving the scene of a property damage accident,” said Northampton Police Capt. Victor Caputo.
We brought questions to one local lawyer to find out who is legally responsible in this type of case.
“If the driver has automobile insurance, his auto insurance will have compulsory coverage for property damage,” said Attorney David Mintz.
He told us it is more likely that the property manager is not obligated to cover displacement fees for the tenants unless it states otherwise in their lease. Meanwhile, he offered this piece of advice for the displaced tenants.
“The D.A.’s office is now involved, so these people are victims. That’s what they are and the D.A.’s office is set up to assist victims of crime…Ask them if their out-of-pocket expenses can be reimbursable under Massachusetts Victims Compensation Fund,” Mintz added.
We did reach out to the property manager for comment today, but we have not yet heard back.
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