SUV lands in Cal Heights driveway after destructive late-night crash

An out-of-control SUV destroyed two parked cars and uprooted a 50-foot palm tree before landing in a California Heights driveway on Orange Avenue Wednesday night, according to a witness.

The SUV’s driver was also injured in the crash. Medical crews took the man to a local trauma hospital to be treated, Long Beach Fire Department spokesperson Brian Fisk said.

Zeina Nehme said her company car and her neighbor’s car, both parked on Orange Avenue near 36th Street, were totaled after the SUV smashed into them around 11:30 p.m. The stretch of Orange is known for bad accidents, Nehme said, adding that this is the third bad crash that has happened in front of her home in the eight years she’s lived there.

“We were home, asleep, and heard a loud impact noise,” Nehme said. “And we immediately leaped out of bed. I sort of knew what had happed because the noise was familiar because it’s happened before.”

Nehme said the driver landed inches away from a personal vehicle parked in her driveway and the 50-foot palm tree in her parkway was laid out across the driveway blocking her and her partner in until city crews were able to finish cleaning the wreckage around 2:30 a.m.

A Long Beach Police Department spokesperson said that details about what may have caused the crash were not immediately available.

Nehme blamed the crash, in part, on the conditions on Orange Avenue. She said that the neighborhood has fought to have a stoplight or a stop sign installed to try and slow down drivers.

Nehme said the volume of people using the street has recently increased since the city reduced the number of lanes along parts of Atlantic Avenue to expand outdoor dining capacity for businesses.

“Atlantic is half blocked off because of the restaurants so everyone is having to use Orange, and it’s just crazy,” Nehme said. “[The driver] could’ve fallen on my house; he could’ve fallen into my kitchen.”

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Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post.