Port Richey, FL — After having a few too many at the Lane Glo Bowling Alley early Saturday morning, police allege Crystal Leija got behind the wheel of her Honda Accord and proceeded to slam into a parked car, several fences and a few mailboxes before driving straight through a house where a family of seven were sleeping.
It was about 2:00 in the a.m. when Leija’s car went barreling through the family’s home. Completely through it.
“I heard a loud crash. Boom! I thought it was a tornado. I thought it was the end of the world.” said John Rauchbauer. “When I hit the hallway, there was dust and debris.”
It was about then that Rauchbauer realized the car had plowed through the bedroom where his two boys, ages 4 and 10, had been sleeping. Unable to find them at first, Rauchbauer began searching for the boys, desperately calling out for them.
Rauchbauer’s brother-in-law, Jesse Data, had been sleeping on an air mattress in the living room at the time. Though he was seriously injured by the car as it drove past him, he managed to find 10-year-old Tyler in a pile of debris. 4-year-old Hayden, though, was still unaccounted for.
As the family continued their search, Rauchbauer said Leija stumbled out of the car and slurred, “If you give me $1,000, I’ll help you find your kids.” Rauchbauer then reportedly told the woman to “get back in her fucking car.”
Luckily, Hayden materialized right about then. It appears as if his bed had been pushed out into the backyard by the vehicle and deposited under a pile of debris. Scared, the kid hightailed it into his parent’s bedroom and hid beneath the covers until the dust settled. He managed to escape with just a few minor injuries.
Data wasn’t so fortunate – he ended up with about 100 stitches to close the wounds in his head.
“I think Uncle Jess is the real hero. He got the worst of it. He got hit by the car,” Rauchbauer said. “You know he took 100 stitches to the face and he walked over broken glass to get these kids out.”
Leija, 32, was arrested at the scene. Investigators found her inside her car in the family’s backyard. She, of course, was uninjured. She’s being held on $6,150 bail, charged with DUI with serious bodily injury, DUI with property damage and leaving the scene of a crash with property damage.
As Leija was being led to a patrol car, Rauchbauer, holding another of his children, said, “You see who you could have killed?” She responded, he said, by cursing.
The house was destroyed. Rauchbauer, his fiancee and their four children are now without a place to call home. Though the Red Cross has put the family up at a hotel for a few days, getting their shit back together isn’t going to be easy – the couple has just a few hundred dollars in their checking account.
“I need to find my family a home,” he said. “I don’t know what to do.”
Christo’s, the restaurant where Rauchbauer and his fiancee are employed, is taking donations. If you’d like to help, here’s the info: Christo’s, 3136 Little Road, Trinity, FL 34655-1864; (727) 376-4082.Tags: Crystal Leija, DUI, Jesse Data, John Rauchbauer