Point resident seeks solution after second crash into his front yard

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SOMERS POINT – It was much more than a bump in the night that woke Phil Morris from his slumber in the early morning hours last Friday.

It was also a sickeningly familiar sound.

Morris was awakened by the sound of a car crashing into his yard and nearly into his Bay Avenue home at about 3:30 a.m.

The 2006 Honda Civic, driven by Jared Burke, 24, of Egg Harbor Township failed to negotiate the sharp curve at the corner of Bay and Ocean avenues, instead tearing through a fence and shrubbery, demolishing a 3-foot-high stone wall, veering across the patio and landing in Morris' outdoor shower. The debris from the shower also broke a window, Morris said.

 "We jumped out of bed," Morris said. "We couldn't see the car at first, but we knew it was bad. It kind of shakes you up."

Morris said the crash, the second such incident in a little over a year, caused damages of more than $10,000.

"It looked like a bomb hit," he said. "There were no skid marks. The guy didn't even make a quarter of the turn before coming into the yard."

Burke was charged with driving while intoxicated  and other moving vehicle charges, police said.

Morris said Burke's insurance should pay for the damages, but he would like some assurance from the city that it won't happen again.

"It's a serious concern. If people were on the patio enjoying a nice night, somebody could have been seriously injured or killed."

Morris said he spoke with City Council President Sean McGuigan, who visited the property and evaluated what measures the city could take to warn drivers about the sharp bend -- or keep them out of Morris' yard.

A similar incident last year caused about $7,500 in damage to Morris' property, but he didn't press for any kind of barrier at that time, thinking it was an isolated incident. Morris said McGuigan assured him a county engineer would take a look at the bend. Morris also plans to attend the next council meeting to voice his concerns.

"They've got to come up with something," Morris said. "They're so concerned about the speeding (on Bay Avenue), but they don't even have rumble strips or stop signs or anything. It would probably take either a guard rail or barricade of some sort, but the city is afraid of lawsuits. If a car crashes into a barricade and it's not collapsible, they would be liable for the damages. And any kind of flashing lights would disturb the neighbors."

Help can't come soon enough for Morris.

"Now that the fence and wall are gone, they have a straight shot right into the house," he said with a rueful laugh. "What's that saying? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me…?”

He won't even entertain the thought of a third "house-crasher."

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