Artos Saucedo awoke to a smoke-filled loft and flashing lights early Saturday morning after two cars plowed through his adjoining art gallery space and into the home he shares with his wife and teenage son.

Just after 12:35 a.m., a driver in a sedan traveling westbound on Seventh Street at Rose Avenue rear-ended an SUV, causing both cars to drive into the building, according to Long Beach Police Department spokesperson Eric Stachura.

No one in Saucedo’s family was injured, but one of the cars ended up in his 13-year-old son’s room, where it actually pushed his bed.

“I climbed over all the freaking rubble, I climbed over the car that was in his room, I looked down and I just see his face staring up at me and he’s unharmed,” Saucedo said. “It’s a sheer freaking miracle because there’s doors around him and there’s bricks all over the floor.”

“So two cars somehow destroyed everything except us three,” he said.

John, left, and Johnny Saucedo, the father and brother of Artos Saucedo, clear debris from Artos’ family home fter two cars plowed through her family’s home and adjoining art gallery Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024. Pictured is Artos’ 13-year-old son’s room, where one of the cars entered. Photo by Brandon Richardson.

Long Beach Fire Department personnel treated the driver and passenger of the SUV for minor injuries at the scene, according to Stachura.

The driver of the sedan, who was identified by police as 32-year-old Long Beach resident Luis Medinas Amador, was transported to a local hospital for minor injuries and was then booked for suspicion of felony DUI, Stachura said. Bail was set at $100,000.

Saucedo, a 36-year-old graphic designer and screenprinter, and his family have lived in the loft for five years, he said. Not long after moving in, he and his wife Liz Gariealdo founded The Open Gallery, an art space to showcase artists, which also features two artist studios and a gift shop.

At the beginning of this year, after a year of renovations, the couple expanded the space into the building’s center unit, which briefly served as gallery and community space.

“We’ve opened our doors to so many artists that have never shown in Long beach, so many locals who haven’t had chances to show in galleries,” Saucedo said, adding that the gallery has been a passion project that had not yet turned a profit.

“We just barely have been getting by just to feed ourselves,” he said.

Johnny Saucedo comforts Liz Gariealdo after two cars plowed through her family’s home and adjoining art gallery Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024. Photo by Brandon Richardson.

Saucedo said road rage incidents, drunk driving and accidents are not uncommon along Seventh Street, where cars can often be seen speeding. He and nearby residents have urged the city to install a traffic signal at the intersection to no avail.

Some of the art that was displayed in the gallery was destroyed in the crash, Saucedo said, which leaves the family trying to figure out how to pay the artists for their work as well as salvage their own finances.

Adding to their dire financial situation is the fact that their insurance company recently pulled out of California, leaving them uninsured, Saucedo said. He has been in the process of getting a new policy, he said.

A drunk driver crashed into another car, forcing both vehicles into The Open Gallery and an adjoining residential loft at 1740 Seventh Street Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024. Photos courtesy of Tania Mirón Pérez.

Less than an hour after the incident, the building at 1740 Seventh St. was inspected by Long Beach Community Services, which determined it suffered “major structural damage” and is “unsafe,” according to a notice.

A GoFundMe campaign was created to help the family get back on its feet, including finding an apartment and replacing their electronics so they can work.

“It’s just all snatched from us in the blink of an eye,” Saucedo said. “Our livelihood is just wiped out for the time being. We’re all shattered; we don’t have a backup plan.”

Artos Saucedo, 36, clears debris from his family’s home and art gallery after two cars crashed through the front of the building Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024. Photo by Brandon Richardson.
The Open Gallery and an adjoining residential loft at 1740 Seventh St. is boarded up after two cars crashed into it Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024. Photo by Brandon Richardson.

Brandon Richardson is a reporter and photojournalist for the Long Beach Post and Long Beach Business Journal.