Driver crashes into Wichita home, prompting evacuations


A Sedgwick County clerk says a suspected drunk driver crashed into his neighbor’s Wichita home early Thursday morning, causing a gas leak that led to evacuations in the area.

It happened at around 3:30 a.m. in the 11500 of West 17th Street North, near 119th and 13th streets. Kelly Arnold says officials with the Wichita Police Department knocked on his door, telling him there had been an accident at his next door neighbor’s house.

"… from a drunk driver driving his van into the front bedroom," Arnold said, "which created a very large gas leak. The minute I opened up the door, you could immediately smell the gas."

He shared surveillance video on his Twitter page, which shows a white Ford Econoline van come down the street and jump the curb and taking out a mailbox. The van then crashed into the home just off camera and debris can be seen flying through the air.

What happens when you drink and drive right into my neighbors house!@TrooperBenKHP Would not approve!#dontdrinkanddrive #icttraffic

— Kelly Arnold (@kellyarnoldks) January 18, 2018

Joe Bickel, deputy chief of operations with the Wichita Fire Department, said the van sheered off the gas line below the ground.

"Fire crews monitored the gas levels in the house and found out it was extremely high in the basement," he said. We evacuated that house and the houses next to it."

Gas service workers had to dig next to the street to get the gas line shut down.

"They went in a took readings and found out that it was higher than what we believed it was, so they wanted us to initiate an evacuation area of approximately 500 feet around that house in case of an explosion," Bickel said.

Arnold evacuated and went to IHOP.

"You know, at 3:30 in the morning, where else do you go? It’s a small inconvenience. Luckily, nobody was hurt in this accident."

Families were allowed back in their homes at around 6 a.m.

Officer Charley Davidson said later Thursday morning that investigators believe alcohol was involved, adding that the 25-year-old driver was heading home at the time of the crash. His name was not released.

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