'My House is Broken,' Displaced 3-Year-Old Says of Car Crash

Between asking for a juice box and bouncing a ball in his front yard, Jerry Camarillo pointed to his disheveled living room and explained to a stranger that that's where the car made a really big noise.

One day after a reported drunk driver barreled into Carmen Gillespie's living room and displaced her family of nine, the South Pasadena mother reiterated how blessed she was.

Blessed that Veronica Villanueva missed the gas line, when her SUV plowed through Gillespie's wall. 

Blessed that her 13-year-old son, Nathan Camarillo, was too tired to keep writing his report in the living room, so he went to bed. 

Blessed that everyone was in bed, no late-night TV watchers asleep on the sofas - one crunched from a concrete post that hurtled through the window, the other blanketed in dust that authorities are inspecting for asbestos. Until insurance officials determine whether the dust is toxic, the family is not allowed to stay inside the home.

"My house is broken,'' blurted 3-year-old Jerry Camarillo. 

Gillespie even smiled at hearing her son sum up the situation.

"We're safe. That's what's important,'' Gillespie said Monday, as her children played in the front yard. The family popped back to the house at the end of the school day, but they're staying at a motel in Monterey Park, she said. It could be another few days before the asbestos testing is complete, and possibly longer before the structural integrity of the home is determined.

Gillespie and her family were sleeping at 2:24 a.m. Sunday when an apparent drunk driver traveling on North Raymond Avenue ran through the intersection, hit the curb, and according to Sergeant Mike Neff of the South Pasadena Police Department. Police arrested Villanueva, 24, from Alhambra, on suspicion of DUI. The woman was issued a citation and released.

Hours earlier, Nathan Camarillo was working away on a report in the family's living room. At first, Gillespie was unhappy that her son went to bed before finishing, she said, but if he'd been sitting at the desk, the car could've killed him. Still worried about the report, Gillespie said she and her son dug through the debris looking for any sign of it. For safety reasons, firefighters told them to stop sifting. 

Still, Camarillo had quite the good excuse for not turning in his assignment Monday. Gillespie sent all of her school-age children to class, not wanting to disrupt their lives any more than necessary. 

"I wrote him a note,'' Gillespie said, noting his South Pasadena Middle School teacher granted her son an extension. 

Shaking her head at the toppled mess of her front room, Gillespie pointed to a piece of a 1914 church bench that remained unscathed. Also untouched was a statue of St. Francis that, by all measure, should've been destroyed. 

"I don't know what I'll do about Christmas presents, and I don't know if we'll still be in the motel. Can you have a tree in a motel? But we're all ok,'' she said. 

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T Christian Gapen November 27, 2012 at 05:59 PM
Great story about this sweet family. Awesome that Carmen recognizes how lucky they are given what just happened. I'll think about her today when the bus is late or the barista gets my cappuccino wrong. Well done!
JT Hampton November 30, 2012 at 11:11 PM
Any idea how these people are doing?
Donna Evans November 30, 2012 at 11:16 PM
Great question, JT. I meant to call Carmen yesterday to find out if the asbestos tests came back positive. My understanding is if they did, they'll be displaced quite a bit longer. I'll follow up and report back!


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