Police say a man suspected of drunken driving smashed his car through the front of a “Fixer Upper” home in North Waco early Saturday morning, capping more than a year of frustration for its owners, who feel their complaints about neighborhood crime have gone unheard.
The owners, Ken and Kelly Downs, sleeping in an interior bedroom at the time of the crash, weren’t hurt, but their house nicknamed the “Three Little Pigs” house and featured on Season 3, Episode 12 of HGTV’s “Fixer Upper,” sustained considerable damage. The car broke through an exterior wall and a parallel interior wall of a front room office.
Police and fire crews were called to 1902 Alexander Ave. about 1:20 a.m., after a car crashed into the home, Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton said. Swanton said the driver, Allen Wayne Miller, 31, was found in a Hyundai Accent wedged inside the home.
Authorities said Miller tried to get out of the car and leave the house. Waco Assistant Fire Chief Don Yeager said firefighters helped detain the man before police arrived and arrested Miller on a driving while intoxicated charge.
The Downses’ house is at the end of North 19th Street’s “T” intersection with Alexander, and Kelly Downs said it isn’t the first time the neighborhood has had issues with drivers failing to stop.
Tires left grooves in the sloped front lawn but didn’t leave any apparent damage on the front porch, seeming to indicate the car went over the porch, crashing through a railing and two walls, Yeager said.
“The yard is built up several feet, and he hit the embankment of the yard, apparently went airborne, and like a lot of older homes, this house was built up off the ground, so he cleared the rest of the yard,” Yeager said. “He didn’t hurt the hedges, but he took out the railing on the porch and went right into the window of the front room and hit an interior wall that might be a load-bearing wall.”
Swanton said the driver was taken to Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest Medical Center for minor injuries before he was taken to jail.
Ralph Strother, 19th State District Court judge, signed a search warrant for a blood draw for Miller about 3:30 a.m. The judge said the search warrant affidavit states Miller was aggressive with authorities.
Miller had been released from McLennan County Jail by Saturday evening.
Veronia Perez, who lives two houses down on Alexander Avenue, said the early morning wreck didn’t wake her family, but she noticed the damage when taking her daughter to work Saturday morning.
By Saturday afternoon, plywood sheets covered the hole in the exterior wall. Inside, Ken Downs picked through a floor covered with rubble, broken ceramics and electronics, books and splintered shiplap for anything salvageable from his home office. Nearby, at a dining room table built by Clint Harp, a weary Kelly Downs considered how serious the wreck could have been.
In the home renovation by “Fixer Upper’s” Chip and Joanna Gaines, a brick fireplace had been relocated in the office and likely was what stopped the car. The next room the car would have hit, was the bedroom where they were sleeping when the crash happened, Kelly Downs said.
Security cameras mounted on the front porch may have caught the wreck as it happened, and the Downses intend to forward any footage to police and city officials.
‘Like the Wild West’
“It’s like the Wild West here. There’s been a lot of commotion coming from the bars and the store across the street,” she said. “It’s been a problem from the beginning. We’ve lived here a year and a half and we feel deceived by the city of Waco and Magnolia Realty.”
Ken, a digital design engineer, and Kelly, an occupational therapist, met in Dallas a few years ago and married. His place, however, was too small.
“We had to get out of his small bachelor’s pad,” Kelly Downs said.
What they were seeing on the first season of “Fixer Upper” was intriguing, and they followed it up by house hunting in Waco with Magnolia Realty. The house on Alexander Avenue appealed to them with its first-floor layout, its ample square footage and, Kelly smiled ruefully, shiplap.
The home’s front bedrooms were converted into his-and-hers office spaces, the room on the left front with touches by Joanna for Kelly, the one on the right with Chip’s input for Ken.
“It was a really nice concept,” Kelly Downs said.
While the Downses encountered some problems with their home after moving in, the neighborhood had issues they did not expect: late-night noise from nearby bars, suspicious activity and push-back, some of it anti-“Fixer Upper,” from local residents when they complained to police.
“We have been intimidated and harassed,” Kelly Downs said. “People have complained about their taxes going up because we moved here. Store owners have complained about taxes.”
She recently polled neighbors for interest in creating a Neighborhood Watch group and found that, while half expressed an interest, others wanted no change in the status quo.
After the wreck Saturday she said she wonders why Magnolia Realty showed them a property in such an area and why the city hasn’t done more to reply to their complaints.
“This is what we’ve been saying. There’s a big problem here. It’s not safe,” Kelly Downs said. “This is a ‘Fixer Upper’ gone bad.”
Efforts to reach Magnolia spokesman Brock Murphy on Saturday evening were unsuccessful.
In the hours after the early morning crash, the Downses still were recovering from the surprise and not sure what their next step would be, whether to repair or move to another place.