A 31-year-old man was apparently so angry with his ex-girlfriend that he decided to ram his vehicle, loaded with filled propane tanks, into her ground-floor Florida apartment.
The driver, Carl Philbert, did not survive the fiery crash. The former girlfriend he was apparently attempting to harm escaped with other family members who were inside the apartment, including a toddler, out the back door.
The incident occurred at about 12:45 p.m. Tuesday, causing a fire in the building, but nobody else was injured, Ed Cunningham, the Fort Pierce Police Department spokesman, told TCPalm.
Eileen Cuevas, 26, said her mother was in the front room of the apartment when she saw Philbert, her mother’s ex-boyfriend, driving his car toward the apartment building.
“My mother was cooking,” Cuevas told TCPalm. “She saw him, like, coming full force at our living room, and she was trying to warn us as we were sitting on the couch, but it was too late, and he had already come in and hit the window. And he drove through our living room.”
“As soon as he came in through the window, I just jumped up and grabbed my son, ran out the back door with him. I got my mother and my grandmother and everyone out of the house.”
The car and the apartment burst into flames. Cuevas said she tried to summon help to rescue Philbert, whom she saw burning inside the car.
She said she does not know what provoked the man to ram his car into the apartment.
“It’s very personal,” Cuevas said. “It’s still weird talking about it. He was trying to get to my mom. It was meant for everybody that was in the house. I mean, the man had four or five propane tanks in the car. They were friends, and it turned out really bad. This is very personal for our family, so it’s kind of touchy.”
The incident could have turned out far worse. Neighbor Pablo Toledo rescued an elderly woman from her second-floor balcony. Toledo said he was sitting inside his house next door to the apartment complex when when he heard an explosion.
“I came running out this way, and I saw there was a gentleman trying to put a fire out in a car that was jammed into the corner,” Toledo told TCPalm. “So I ran and got my fire extinguisher and tried to help, and when I came back it was worse. It felt like it kept growing.”
The St. Lucie County Fire Department arrived at 12:48 p.m. and extinguished the fire, but not before all eight of the apartment units were damaged.