UPDATE: Suspected Drunk Driver Crashes into Church

UPDATE 8/15/14 @ 5:36 p.m.
NEW BOSTON, Ohio (WSAZ) -- A church in New Boston, Ohio is in shambles after a truck smashed through one of its walls.

Police believe the truck was topping out at more than 60 miles per hour before it hit a sign, flipped and landed inside the church.

Investigators said the driver, Samuel Gibson, 21, was drunk and the underage passenger, Zachary Cunningham, 19, was too.

Church leaders said the damage may be bad enough to condemn the building and force them to start from scratch.

"You have a huge hole in the side of your church, it was an accident," said Rev. Mike Percell.

That's the call Rev. Percell got around 4 a.m. Friday, after police said a drunk driver crashed through a fence, a sign and finally, into New Boston Nazarene Church.

"It damaged several pews, of course the walls, the complete wall is structurally unsafe, it is off-limits now to the public," he said.

The pastor estimates the damage could go into the hundreds of thousands of dollars if the building is condemned.

He's waiting on insurance adjusters and state inspectors to give the final word.

"There's several thousand cars a day goes by this church, there's a lot of vibration and with the vibration, and the unstable wall it could bring part or all of it down," Rev. Percell said.

New Boston Police said the driver of the truck, Samuel Gibson, was drinking and driving well over both limits. His blood alcohol content level was reported at .13.

"It was kind of shocking, but at the same time, it's part of life," said Rev. Percell.

For now, crews are installing extra posts to keep the wall somewhat stable and yellow tape runs around the perimeter.

But Rev. Percell said the building hardly makes the church.

"It's a place to meet, the church is still in tact and the people are still very supportive, so we'll just go on and work out what works out," he said.

The reverend said the New Boston Community Center will be their new home for services for the time being.

He said construction crews were also on the scene fairly quickly to help cover up the hole and keep moisture and rain from coming in.

Police said Gibson is out on bond, charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated. They said Cunningham was cited and released for underage consumption.



ORIGINAL STORY 8/15/14 @ 12:32 p.m.
NEW BOSTON, Ohio (WSAZ) -- A church received major damage when a truck crashed into it.

It happened overnight at the New Boston First Church of Nazarene.

No one was injured in the crash, but police say two people were arrested.

Samuel Gibson, 21, of Portsmouth, was cited for OVI, Operating a Vehicle under the Influence, and failure to control.

19-year-old Zachary Cunningham, of Wheelersburg, was charged with underage consumption.

There is a gaping hole in the sanctuary. Rev. Mike Percell tells WSZ.com that damage could be in excess of $200,000 and the sanctuary may have to be condemned.

We have a crew at the scene.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.


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