Early in the morning on April 9, a student attempting to turn off of Union Street onto Barber Street crashed into the main Slayton Arboretum gate. The impact crushed the gate, destroyed a portion of the bordering stone wall, and totaled the car.
Though the car reportedly flipped after impact, the driver left the scene uninjured.
“There was extensive damage to the vehicle and the wall,” said Chris Martini, director of campus security.
The right side of the gate was torn completely off of its hinges, though the left side remained mostly undamaged. To the right of the gate, several of the fence posts buckled after the vehicle smashed a section of stone and concrete into the wall.
Sophomore Linda Lizalek witnessed the crash. She saw the vehicle traveling down Union Street at about 2:10 a.m. Though the vehicle did slow down, she said, the driver did not slow enough to make the turn.
“The vehicle was traveling at a good clip,” Martini said.
Lizalek does not remember if she turned away at the point of impact or if she blocked out the memory. Either way, she has no recollection of the car’s actual impact.
“I think it hit the curb and then flipped on its back,” she said.
She said she does remember hearing the wreck and said it was loud enough to draw out students from nearby dorms, such as Benzing Residence and the Suites.
The car ended up just within the arboretum gate after the wreck.
“The gate stopped him pretty well,” Lizalek said.
Vice President of Administration Rich Péwé said the driver was lucky that the mortar from the wall was old enough to give way.
At this point, the college does not know the cost of the damage to the gate and wall.
“The repair will be extensive. We don’t know what the cost will be,” Martini said. “Estimates are pending.”
Péwé said that repairing the stone wall will be the most expensive part since the college may have to replace the stone footer, which is three to four feet deep, in addition to hiring a stone mason to re-mortar the visible section of the wall.
“It’s not a lick and stick solution,” he said.
The Hillsdale City Police are investigating the crash but declined to comment until they finish the investigation.