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'It's bigger than a miracle,' crash survivor says

February 19, 2012

Photo by Ted Lutz – This photo shows the path of destruction caused by a loaded log truck that was traveling south on Route 66 near Kane when it crossed the northbound lane and went off the east side of the road. Before damaging one house and destroying another, the out-of-control truck sheared off this utility pole and struck an unoccupied parked car. The impact pushed the car (seen in background against the Jim Morgan residence) a distance of 22 feet, according to State Police.

KANE – Bruce Peterson no longer has a house.
It was suddenly taken away Saturday when it was struck and destroyed by an out-of-control fully-loaded log truck.
Despite losing his home of 25 years, Peterson is grateful.
The impact miraculously spared his life and the lives of three other family members who were inside the house at the time of the spectacular crash on Route 66 in the Ten Commandments area of Wetmore Township just south of Kane.
"It's bigger than a miracle," Peterson said Sunday with tears in his eyes. "Somehow, we all made it out alive. God was with us."
Peterson escaped serious injury along with his wife, Debbie, their 26-year-old daughter, Ashley Peterson and their 2-year-old granddaughter, Kianna Jones. The family's pet dog "Angus" also survived and sustained only minor injuries.
The Petersons and their daughter and granddaughter resided together in the two-story wood-frame house at 5976 Route 66.
Only a pile of debris remains at the site.
Because the impact caused such major structural damage, Chittester Excavating of Kane was summoned Saturday afternoon to demolish the hazardous building.
Peterson said the remainder of his shattered house "fell down" after it was "barely touched" by the excavation equipment.
Peterson said he and his granddaughter, who will celebrate her third birthday next month, were "brushing our teeth together" in an upstairs bathroom at the time of the impact about 9:15 a.m. Saturday.
"It was like a big bomb went off," Peterson said in describing the noise made by the truck smashing into the north side of his house. He said the house "kept shaking."
"It was like being in an earthquake that was making the world end," he said.
Peterson said his first thought was to protect his granddaughter.
"I grabbed her and we laid on the floor," he said. "I kept her beneath me so nothing would fall on top of her."
Peterson said the jarring impact caused the stairwell to the second floor to "crumble down."
"We were trapped up there," he said.
When the Kane Volunteer Fire Department arrived on the scene, firefighters extended a ladder to the second floor to reach Peterson and his granddaughter. Peterson said Leo "Jerry" Geibel, the second assistant Kane fire chief, first carried his granddaughter to safety before returning to help him down the ladder.
"Leo is a very, very valuable man to have in that situation," Peterson said in praising Geibel. "He never left me."
Ashley said she and her mother were in the living-room "just talking" when the truck rammed their house.
Ashley said the impact pushed her chair forward and she fell into the basement when the weight of the truck crushed the floor. She said she looked up and saw the bottom of the truck "above my head."
"All the walls caved in around me," Ashley said. "I curled up into a ball and just started screaming because I couldn't move anywhere."
Ashley, who is a 2004 graduate of Kane Area High School and an employee at Sena-Kean Manor near Smethport, finally was able to crawl out of the debris.
After the terrifying impact, Debbie Peterson was able to enter the kitchen to escape the crumbling house.
Emergycare Ambulance of Kane transported both Ashley and Debbie Peterson to Kane Community Hospital where they were treated for minor injuries and released.

Pick up a copy of the Monday, Feb. 20, 2012 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.

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