A pickup truck being pursued by police bulldozed through Nadira Syed's home early Friday morning, pushing a piece of a living room wall and a couch onto the front lawn.
But it could have been worse.
Syed was sleeping on the couch a half hour before the white truck smashed into her 1475 Kenmore Ave. home and two others on the block shortly after 2:20 a.m.
For the last several weeks, she had been sleeping on that couch because of back problems. But for some miraculous reason, she got up in the middle of the night and lay down in a bedroom upstairs.
With Amherst police in pursuit, the fleeing motorist's truck sheared off the front of Syed's house, knocking the front wall off the foundation, before it hit the next door neighbor's house.
"I thought it was an earthquake," Syed said several hours later.
Six people had been home when the crash happened. Amazingly no one was hurt.
Police said they were called to investigate vehicles possibly racing on Niagara Falls Boulevard near Longmeadow Road. Police located two vehicles, and one of the drivers stopped on Kenmore Avenue, but the driver of the pickup kept going, according to Amherst police.
Elijah K. Turley, 22, of Buffalo, apparently lost control of his truck and crashed into the homes on Kenmore Avenue, just west of Delaware Avenue, Amherst police said.
Turley has been charged with driving while intoxicated, first-degree reckless endangerment, third-degree assault, reckless driving, third-degree unlawfully fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle, second-degree obstruction of governmental administration, as well as several vehicle and traffic violations, police said.
Turley was treated and released from Erie County Medical Center and is being held pending arraignment on a parole warrant, police said. A 19-year-old female passenger in the pickup was ejected through the front windshield, according to a Kenmore police report, and was taken to ECMC with a leg injury. Amherst police did not identify her or describe her condition.
Friday morning after the sun came up, Syed and her family trudging through the rubble of their house. The front of the house was completely exposed. A large flatscreen TV and their dining room looked unscathed. But everything in front was demolished.
Marsh, Syed's white cat, was missing.
"Pray for my cat," she asked.
Syed's husband, who identified himself only with the first initial G, said he had gone downstairs shortly before the crash to get his wife a heating pad for her back. He was up in the attic when he saw flashing lights and then the car hit. He thought it was a plane crash.
He ran downstairs as he heard his daughter yell: "Run down!" The family ran out the side and came out to the sidewalk and saw the damage.
G. Syed stared at the couch on the lawn, knowing his wife could have been asleep there.
The 1475 Kenmore house is owned by Mahmood K. Syed, according to Erie County property records.
Next door to the Syeds, Diane Stapleton was dozing off while watching TV when she thought there was an explosion outside her bedroom window.
"It was like a ball of smoke," she said.
The smashed-up pickup truck came to a stop in the bushes in front of Stapleton's house after clipping her porch. She saw scuffling and a tangle of legs and arms by the truck and heard a police officer yelling: "Stop! I'm going to Tase you. Lay down. Lay down."
"Thank God no one was hurt," Stapleton said.
Stapleton's basement windows shattered from the impact of the truck, but her house was otherwise in good shape.
"It was built in 1901," she said.
Kenmore Avenue between Elmwood Avenue and Delaware Avenue was reopened to traffic at about 5 a.m.
Amherst police ask anyone who may have information about what happened to call the department at 716-689-1311.