BY MAX ADDINGTON – STAFF WRITER
On February 20 at around 7:15 a.m. Eastern Time, Ricky Baker drove his car into the front of the Horky House on Centre College’s campus.
According to Director of Facilities Management Wayne King, there were no signs of an attempt to brake before hitting the building. Authorities have indicated that Baker likely suffered from a medical complication and his body was transported to Frankfort for an autopsy.
Before hitting the Horky House, Baker’s Nissan hit a 12-inch diameter tree. This rotated his car about 90 degrees, and when he made impact with the house, the long side of his car was parallel to the wall. Director of the Department of Public Safety Gary Bugg indicated that if the car would have hit the building straight-on, it would have gone through the other side and likely collapsed the whole structure. Instead, the car found its resting place in Meredith Bruner’s office.
Bruner’s husband and child had the day off for President’s Day, so she decided to take a floating holiday on the 20th.
“I first heard about the incident from Kay Drake, who called me shortly after the incident. She told me how lucky I was to have taken a holiday. When I don’t have to take my kid to school, I usually show up to work pretty early. I most likely would have been in my office if I had not taken the holiday.”
The custodian who works in the Horky House also decided to take a floating holiday, possibly saving another life.
A stray tire from the car rolled upstairs and busted a second-floor window, and a ball bearing took out a window on the first floor. “There was oil and grease everywhere from the ball bearing coming loose,” Ms. Bruner told the Cento.
“It’s scary knowing what could have happened,” said Bugg. “Luckily school was out, because there are usually children around the intersection getting to school the same time the incident happened. It was also fortunate that there was not another car in the intersection.”
Bruner’s day-to-day responsibilities include managing the payroll of Centre’s faculty and staff and the file cabinets in her office were destroyed in the crash. Luckily, the Facilities Management staff was able to successfully recover all of the paperwork, allowing Ms. Bruner to reorganize the files in new cabinets.
While this was definitely a freak accident, it is not the first time a car has gone off the road in the direction of the Horky House. In fact, according to Bugg, this is the third time. The last time a car drove off the road at the same intersection, the Horky House served as the admission office. There was a large brick sign that stopped the car and it did not make it to the house.
Because the Horky House was built in 1850, it is considered a historical building and must be restored to its original condition, Wayne King reported. A structural engineer was on the scene the day of the incident and made a report that was approved by the insurance company. Repairs to the building should begin around mid-March.
“I’ve felt a ton of love from campus. I really appreciate everybody…I’ve had people shed tears in my office, happy that I am alive,” Meredith told me. In light of the fact that this is the third time a car has came off the road towards the Horky House, it might be time to consider building a barrier to prevent tragic events like the one on February 20th from happening, or at least to mitigate the negative effects.