It is Halloween night — students are returning from classes and getting ready for the holiday in University Village. Computer science sophomore Angie Landin is preparing food in her apartment when a red Tesla suddenly accelerates and crashes directly into her kitchen wall.
Around 6:20 p.m. on Oct. 31, 2023, a Tesla driven by the mother of a UTD student crashed into a gray Honda and accelerated onto the lawn of UV Building 31. The car threw a bike rack and supporting roof pillar 10 feet away before colliding with the building, removing a large piece of a lower room’s wall. Students contacted emergency services, and UTDPD, the Richardson Fire Department and UV administration arrived within minutes and spent the next 3 hours removing the car from Building 31’s wall. The stairwell is now ruined, and at least three residents have been displaced. While they were provided with new temporary housing, the students’ access to their possessions was limited and necessities like toilet paper and food were not been provided. Matthew Grief, the associate vice president for Student Affairs, said in an email statement that the university was working with outside engineering, waterproofing and contracting firms to better understand the damages and begin work on repairs. There is not yet a clear date for when displaced students will be able to move back to their original units.
“I was in the kitchen with one of my roommates when the crash happened,” Landin said. “At first we heard a loud sound, probably it going over the curb, and then the sound of it hitting a wall before it made impact with ours. The cupboards and the fridge immediately started shaking. Our washer- dryer door was jammed shut because of the hit.”
Landin and her roommate were unable to leave their apartment until around 9:00 p.m. because of the blockage caused by the car and debris. Students quickly got the driver out of the vehicle and called 911; most of the first responders’ time was spent getting the car unstuck from the building’s outer wall and broken stairs. The car itself was a barrier that prevented those on the first floor from leaving, and the structural damage to the staircase kept those on the second floor trapped as well. The corner of the building is now sealed off with a blue tarp and the whole stairwell blocked by police tape.
“I was outside when this happened, the car drove right by me,” Victoria Mckennon, a Building 31 resident and psychology junior, said. “I watched the whole thing happen … I have never had an experience like that. I really wasn’t processing everything that was going on.”
AHT junior Cooper May, who also resides in Building 31, stores his bike on the bike rack; the car crash damaged its front pedal, tire and chain.
“At the time the wreck happened I was taking a nap on my super comfy living room couch when I suddenly heard a loud bang,” May said. “I look outside my window and think ‘Hey, where is the bike rack at?’ because it is usually bolted into the concrete. I thought it was wacky, but then I somehow went back to sleep. I wake up an hour later and I see police lights in my window. I went out and saw that a red Tesla had crashed into my building.”
According to the Richardson Fire Marshal’s office and a report from UTDPD, the fire department responded to the 911 call in less than 10 minutes, reporting no injuries from the accident. UTDPD identified the driver but did not administer a test for alcohol or drugs. The police report said that after failing to stop, the car accelerated for 122 feet before crashing into Building 31.
“My apartment, I think, was the one that suffered the most damage, because it was the one with a huge chunk missing from the wall,” AHT freshman Brandon Campbell said. “I thankfully wasn’t in my apartment when it happened. I was returning from one of my classes and I saw a tow truck, firefighters and a lot of police cars. My first thought was that someone left the oven on and all my stuff burned down, but then I see the car and I think ‘Holy crap, someone managed to get their car wedged in the building.’”
Campbell said that students were given 30 minutes to retrieve items from their apartments under the supervision of Housing. In a viral TikTok video, Brandon explained how he has now been moved to a second temporary apartment after he discovered a heroin stash in the first room.
“We looked outside and it was absolute chaos,” Landin said. “The car was hitting our wall and there was just debris everywhere.”
The driver, who wished to remain anonymous, said she regretted causing the accident.
“I’m still feeling so bad about it, it was an unfortunate situation that happened, and really, I still didn’t come out of that,” she said. “I feel really, really so sorry about that.”
The driver said the crash was caused by her brakes not working properly and that this is the first accident she has had in 21 years. Until she can negotiate with insurance, which will take around four months, she will not have access to a vehicle.
“I’m handicapped without a car now,” she said.
This story is ongoing. Check utdmercury.com for the latest updates.