(WSVN) - A South Florida family is living in fear because car after car after car keeps plowing into their property. The fear is real, and so is the irritation, because the people who can solve the problem won’t do it, and that’s why that family called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
Think about going to bed tonight. A nice, quiet night’s rest.
Noel Knights, cars crashing in: “The house shakes, and you hear the loud boom.”
Welcome to Noel Knights’ life, to a house he bought back in 2000 at a busy intersection near Hard Rock Stadium. The place has become a target for bad or bad luck drivers.
Noel Knights: “I’m afraid to lose one of my family members, or my life, as a matter of fact.”
The first car came blasting through his fence in 2010.
Noel Knights: “Close enough that I can touch it through the window. Very scary.”
Noel replaced the fence and fixed up his property.
Then 2015 rolled around.
Noel Knights: “She ran off the road and hit it, broke the shed and the fence, so that one wasn’t too bad.”
Noel figured odds are it wouldn’t happen a third time. In 2017, it did.
Noel Knights: “That one was scary. A lot of my valuables were demolished. It’s nerve-racking, hearing brakes or cars accelerate on a daily basis, day or night.”
The crashes started getting worse.
Noel Knights: “Once again, this car drove through my shed and ended up in the backyard, pinned against my back door and inches away from my son’s bedroom.”
Over the years, Noel has complained to the city, the county and the state, asking for a guardrail to protect his house.
The Florida Department of Transportation instead said they would paint a white line on the road to steer cars away from Noel’s house.
Noel Knights: “I laugh, but I was pissed off inside, to be honest with you.”
The line was never put in, and as 2021 came, so did another crash.
Noel Knights: “I heard a loud bang, almost like a train, but then I heard my son screaming in the room, ‘No!’ I thought that that was the one, that I lost one of my family members.”
Noel’s son was fine, but again, his property was a wreck, and he got no help from government agencies to do something before the next bad driver kills someone.
Noel Knights: “I just want protection for my family. I’m actually dumbfounded. I don’t know what else to do.”
Well, Howard, the cars keep smashing into Noel’s property. Is there anything a homeowner can do?
Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “Legally, the government is not responsible, unless there is what the law calls a ‘zone of danger.’ What that means is, once they are put on notice that there is a problem, they have to act to correct the problem. Five cars crashing into Noel’s property is clearly a problem, so they just need to solve the problem.”
A year ago, the Florida Department of Transportation did a study and wrote, “There was no apparent driver erratic behavior observed for the westbound motorists.” They added, regarding the installation of a steel barrier, “The department does not have a budget or grant to support this program.”
After we contacted FDOT, they wrote to us, “We will conduct a follow-up study for this location.”
Howard Finkelstein: “You might be thinking the property owner could just put in steel or concrete barriers like they do at courthouses to block a car from crashing in, but that’s risky, because if a driver is hurt by hitting the barriers, then the property owner could be financially responsible, so it’s best to push the government to fix the problem.”
Noel Knights: “I have a feeling they’re going to tell me the same thing that they told me last time.”
Noel doesn’t believe the state will do anything to solve his problem, and so he thinks he might have to do it himself.
Noel Knights: “Like putting some kind of barrier of my own inside of my fence, at my own expense, and hope and pray that it will be sufficient to protect from a car ending up in my living room.”
The state said they didn’t have the money for a guardrail, but they could afford to build eight lanes of traffic in one direction and eight in the other. Common sense says maybe they should have budgeted a few dollars to protect the homeowners at that busy intersection.
Hitting a barrier trying to solve a problem? Crash with us, ’cause we traffic in solutions.
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