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Near miss as car hits kitchen, not woman

NORTH CANAAN — It was about 11:30 a.m. Sunday and Sherie Pollard was preparing some soup for lunch at her Church Street condo. Working in the kitchen at the front of the home, she heard a loud commotion outside. She might have looked out the kitchen’s double windows that face the car-length driveway.

Instead, she went to the front door — a decision that probably saved her life.

At that instant, her kitchen shattered into an explosion of debris as a neighbor’s car hurtled through the front wall. Bricks, plumbing, the kitchen sink and cabinets did not prevent Raymond Conklin’s Lincoln sedan from burying itself up to the windshield in the condo. Cabinets disintegrated. The sink landed on the other side of the kitchen.

The noise Pollard initially heard was Conklin, 71, hitting his own home while backing into his driveway across the 70 Church St. condominium’s private road. The back end of his car had rolled up over landscaping ties stacked double high to create a planting area that extends about 2 feet from the front of the slightly raised home. The car slammed into bricks on the lower portion of the home hard enough to dislodge half of them and knock the double window out of its frame.

Conklin told North Canaan Resident State Trooper Jim Promotico he then put the car into drive. He was adamant that the accelerator had gotten stuck, causing the car to careen across the road. The condo that it hit sits at ground level. The only obstacles between the end of the driveway and the house are some bushes and a freestanding concrete curb — installed to prevent drivers from pulling up too close to the building.

Conklin appeared unhurt but badly shaken. He was taken by North Canaan Volunteer Ambulance to Fairview Hospital in Great Barrington for evaluation.

His stepdaughter, Sherrie Corban of North Canaan, was called to the scene. She had spent part of the morning with Conklin while he helped her install a mailbox at her mother’s home.

"He was fine. I just left him and he headed back home," Corban said, adding that he is treated for slightly raised blood pressure, his only known health issue.

Conklin bought the red 2007 Lincoln about six months ago, according to Corban.

Pollard’s housemates, Chris and John Capecelatro, had been on the Canaan Country Club golf course when they got the call about their home. Chris Capecelatro, still wearing his golf shoes, inspected the rubble that was once his kitchen, with Sherie’s dad, George Pollard. Their thoughts lingered on her narrow escape.

Sherie’s mother, Sally Pollard, was also at the scene, comforting her daughter while she recounted the event in a statement to police.

As for cleanup, Canaan Fire Company volunteers were on the ball, calling in Mike and Matt Devino. As soon as the car was removed, they began the job of securing both homes with plywood.

Meanwhile, Arnie Agar of Arnold’s Garage in North Canaan towed the Lincoln to his shop. He is certified to determine mechanical issues in accident cases. The remainder of the investigation hinges on his conclusion.

Neighbors who witnessed the accident all had the same story. Conklin was described as a very cautious driver.

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