Cars hit same Raleigh home 5 times in 8 years

RALEIGH, NC -- A Raleigh homeowner says he plans to seek legal help after a car crashed into his house over the weekend.

This has now happened to him five times over the past eight years.

On Sunday night, Raleigh police say 22-year-old Yoni Jose Bonilla-Turcios lost control of his 1996 Honda sedan. They say he ran off the road and struck a brick pillar that was part of a subdivision entrance sign before hitting the house on Fawn Glen Circle, off New Hope Road.

Bonilla-Turcios was taken to WakeMed, where he later died.

It happened just after 12:30 a.m. Sunday. The accident report just released on Monday shows the driver was speeding on New Hope Road.

Fawn Glen Drive

Bonilla-Turcios was driving 69 miles an hour on a 45-mile-an-hour road. The speed limit drops to 35 miles an hour at a curve just before the car arrived at the Fawn Glen Circle intersection and hit Carlo Bernarte's home. At the time of the impact, police say the car had only slowed to 60 miles an hour. Alcohol is also suspected to be a factor in the crash.

It's a tragedy for the loved ones of Bonilla-Turcios and a continuing safety hazard for Bernarte's family. His home and property have been the site for car crashes five times since 2007.

"This is ridiculous," said Bernarte, who lives in the home with his wife and three small children, ages eleven, seven and five.

Cars crashed into Bernarte's home or on his property in 2007, 2008, 2013, 2014 and now 2015. He has reached out to the City of Raleigh and the North Carolina Department of Transportation about installing a guardrail but received this email from Brandon Watson with the city in January:

"...According to the NCDOT Roadside Design Guide, guardrail can only be placed at the face of the curb or at least 13 feet from the face of the curb for a curb and gutter section with a posted speed limit between 45 - 50 mph. Due to the slope of the terrain and public Right-of-Way line, guardrail 13 feet back would not be effective or feasible. Guardrail at the back of curb may have been effective at deflecting out of control vehicles but it also would have impacted the sight triangle for vehicles egressing from Fawn Glen. NCDOT and the City cannot implement any measure that violates existing engineering rules or creates a different safety concern..."

Instead traffic experts with the city have improved the lighting in that area and added signs. But even with those improvements, those in the city's transportation department say they can't plan for drivers who break the law.

"It's hard from an engineering standpoint to go back for a road that was designed for a 45-mile-an-hour design speed to mitigate something like that. If someone is going 90 miles an hour there's only so much we can do," said Jed Niffenegger, Senior Transportion Engineer for the City of Raleigh, "Every incident involved excessive speeding, the driver was impaired or a combination of the two."

The NCDOT said they plan to install special delineators that mount in the guard rail as well as special snow plow-able raised pavement markers on the curve. They also plan to install high intensity oversized fluorescent yellow-green signs ahead of the curve that leads to Bernarte's home.

When asked though what the timeline is on these projects, a representative with the NCDOT said "in the near future", saying the NCDOT and the City of Raleigh need to sit down and figure out who is doing what work.

Again, all these changes only make a difference when people obey the law.

"I certainly feel for the man. I feel for the family who lost someone. I can't state with any level of certainty whether or not our improvements would have prevented this though," said Niffenegger.

Bernarte agrees with that statement and feels a guardrail would give him a better chance at preventing this from happening a sixth, seventh, or eighth time. He said his family can't always be lucky in escaping these crashes without injury.
He is now reaching out for legal help in finding the best way to protect his family.

A spokesperson with the Raleigh Police Department said officers do routinely patrol that end of North New Hope Road and say from October 12, 2014 to the morning of the recent crash on October 11 this year, officers have made nearly 800 traffic stops.

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