BILLINGS — A single-vehicle accident on Grand Ave. Friday evening has neighbors reflecting on the scary night—and all of the accidents they have seen on the busy road.
According to a Tweet from the Billings Police Department, at 9:46 p.m., a man driving a car at high speeds lost control, flipped, and crashed into two houses near the 800 block of Grand Ave. A parked truck was also struck. The man was trapped inside of the vehicle, but was eventually freed and taken to a local hospital with serious injuries.
Grand Ave. resident Austin Poppler told MTN News on Saturday that he heard the crash and ran outside of his home to see what happened just a few doors down.
“I heard the really loud screech and then a crash and immediately ran outside. I saw the smoke clearing and everything and the whole scene," Poppler said. “I just kind of tried to do what I could to help."
Poppler said multiple people called 911 and were trying to help in any way they could. And luckily, the residents of one of the houses hit had the experience to assist in emergency medical care.
"The lady in the house right there’s an EMT, so she immediately had a first aid kit and was checking vitals of the guy in the car," Poppler said.
According to a social media post from a family member of the driver, he is recovering, and is going to be okay.
Residents say those who had their homes and vehicle hit were the first ones to help. At least one of the houses hit is a duplex—Kevin Obert resides on the ground-floor. He said his top-floor neighbors sprung right into action.
"I saw a bunch of lights. I came outside and emergency vehicles were everywhere. And a lot of shrapnel and what not,” Obert said on Saturday. “I believe (my neighbors are) both firefighters."
But residents say they have long-feared an accident like this—and said the busy road is a hot-spot for speeding cars, especially on the weekends.
"Every Friday, Saturday night you hear people just racing by. Sometimes it’s one car, sometimes it’s a couple or five or ten of them. Yeah, it’s scary sometimes,” Poppler said. “I mean I don’t know how fast they’re going, but sometimes I swear they’re going over 100 miles an hour."
According to Poppler, he and his fiancé worried this day would come.
"We’ve been talking about this," Poppler said. "It’s something that we knew was going to happen eventually.”
But Poppler isn't very optimistic about the cars slowing down anytime soon.
“As far as the speed limit, I don’t think lowering it would be effective at all on Grand. I actually think 35 is low, because people go 45 up Grand all day," Poppler said. "So lowering it, in my opinion, wouldn’t be effective."
But Poppler, who said he labels himself as a "car guy", has an idea that could help slow down some of the drivers.
"I feel for the guys and their cars because I’m a car guy at heart. Really the issue with it is there’s nowhere for these guys to go and have fun with their cars on the weekends. If we had a place like a local racetrack or something, or somewhere where they could go and do that stuff safely, and monitored and actually have some rules. That would definitely help the problem."
And residents worry it's only a matter of time before something like this happens again.
“I think it’s a matter of when, and not if,” Obert said.
And Poppler agrees.
“It kind of seems less likely now that the neighbor’s house got hit," Poppler said. "But it’s still a big fear."