Car Crashes Into Gitchell’s Photography

Brent Finnegan -- May 1st, 2010

Around 1:00 a.m. this morning, a car crashed into the storefront of Gitchell’s Photography in downtown Harrisonburg.

Gitchell's photo by Randy Lowery

Photo by Randy Lowery. © All rights reserved.

According to Christa Gitchell, owner of the property, a car traveling westbound on E. Market Street was struck by another vehicle failing to yield at a stop sign at the intersection of E. Market and Federal. The impact sent the westbound car careening into the front of the business.

Gitchell said alcohol was not a factor in the crash.

A call to confirm this information has been placed with the HPD. More information as it becomes available.

UPDATE: HPD spokesperson Mary-Hope Vass confirmed that the driver of the car traveling northbound on Federal Street (identified as Baldomero Bautista Mendoza) was charged with failure to yield. The vehicle traveling westbound on E. Market was knocked off course, and struck a fire hydrant before crashing into the facade of the building.

Tags: , ,

66 Responses to “Car Crashes Into Gitchell’s Photography”

  1. Emmy says:

    Before I saw the pictures I assumed the car hit the other side of the building. There are so many accidents at that intersection. I believe Christa said that no one was seriously injured.

  2. Renee says:

    Whoah. Glad if no one was seriously hurt.

  3. Looks like an alcohol-induced delayed left hand turn that missed the street beside Christa’s store.

    • “Gitchell said alcohol was not a factor in the crash.”

      Operative word being “not.”

      I’m waiting on a call-back from HPD to confirm that.

    • Ernad Halilovic says:

      Ok so you need to read the article again because it clearly states that “alcohol was not a factor in the crash”!!! Commenting on something you have no idea about or choose not to know about makes you look not so intelligent.

  4. Christa says:

    New development. Just got off the phone with my insurance agent on my way home from my wedding shoot….the driver of the car(from Mexico)that ran into the girl that hit my building doesn’t have insurance after all. He lied to HPD. Imagine that. My life just became a little more difficult.

  5. The uninsured driver…hmmm, wonder if he’s illegal, too? Christa’s a good friend of local law enforcement…if there are charges to be had, they’ll load the driver up with them…

    Sorry, Christa, what an awful thing to wake up to.

  6. Emmy says:

    There are a lot of uninsured drivers in this area who are perfectly legal.

  7. Drew says:

    Wow. Now let me guess what might happen next. Conservatives are going to be mad that this citizen (yes, i said citizen) did not have state mandated car insurance! But as far as health insurance? Will they be mad if he didn’t have health insurance too?

  8. Christa says:

    You are so right Emmy. It’s very scary that I might have to foot this bill on my own. I can’t work any more hours than I am to pay my bills.
    Drew, I believe car insurance is to protect others from damages that they do to other people’s property. So your argument makes no sense about the health insurance.

    • Deona Landes Houff says:

      Christy, so sorry for what happened to your building.

      Drew’s argument makes perfect sense to me about health insurance. We ALL end up paying for any health care the uninsured person manages to get. If he/she is in a bad accident and has emergency surgery at the hospital, we pay. If he/she needs medication and gets it prescribed and dispensed at the free clinic, we pay.

      I am very glad no one’s health insurance was put to use in this case.

  9. There are, Emmy, but the likelihood that a given DMV hasn’t suspended their licenses or their plates….Virginia’s insurance cancellations are tied to DMV and done by computer.

  10. What kind of statement is this, from TV-3:

    “Police say alcohol was involved, but the drivers were not impaired.”

    The driver who hit Christa’s window has been identified as:

    Bautista Baldonero

    • Emmy says:

      I would guess that means the person was under the legal limit.

      • Ernad Halilovic says:

        The person that hit the store was not Bautista Baldonero! He was the one that hit the girl’s car and caused her to crash into the store!!!

    • anna says:

      I was the driver of the car that hit the building and Bautista Baldonero was the person who failed to yield right away and hit me. He hit me on my driver side pretty hard which made me lose control of my vehicle and crash into the building. I actually had no idea he had no insurance till now and that really makes it a lot harder on everyone. I dont think that the owner should pay for any damages at all. I spoke to my insurance company and i hope everything will be taken care of. He receive a ticket and we are due in court the 20th so i hope all of this will be resolved soon. Alcohol was not involved in my case but im really not sure about other parties involved. Again i am really sorry about the building i will make sure everything is taken care of.

      • Deb SF says:

        Anna, I’m glad that you’re OK (especially if your car was hit on the drivers side) and are moving through the process of working it out.

        • Emmy says:

          I’m glad you were not hurt. Hopefully this can all be settled with a good outcome for you and Christa.

      • Christa says:

        Anna, can you get in touch with me on Monday? I’ll give you what info I have about the other driver and see if I can help you out. Or maybe we can help each other out. I told you that night not to sweat it. It’s all good…we’ll deal with it. It was NOT your fault

  11. BANDIT says:

    Wouldn’t the ACTUALL driver that hit the building be responsible for the damage? Even though the other UNINSURED driver caused it, that should be up to the driver’s insurance company to go after that person.

    • Emmy says:

      I would think if the actual driver could have prevented the accident in some way then they could be held responsible for not controlling their car. But, if she was just sitting there and got rammed into the building then I don’t think she would be held responsible.

  12. Well, it doesn’t take long to find that statistics are actually kept about illegal immigrants and both DUI and both false documents and un/underinsurance.

  13. And, just last week, McCain seems to have waffled to the right on illegals, actually accusing them of intentionally causing accidents.

  14. And a highlight from the first link I posted, from the Eastern Shore of Maryland:

    “A review of State Police auto accident reports for 2002 through 2004 for that area of the Eastern Shore also revealed that of the 179 accidents involving Hispanic laborers:

    * 75% of the drivers had no auto insurance.
    * Nearly all of the vehicles driven by migrants were registered to other drivers.
    * 93% of the vehicles had false out-of-state tags.”

    • cook says:

      In Virginia, for several years now we – emphasis: we – have refused to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses which means they cannot purchase automobile insurance. Therefore, your stats on these questions with regard to undocumented immigrants in Virginia should be approaching 100%.

      It seems to me that we are shooting ourselves in the foot with such policies. The feds cannot (or, more likely, will not) get their act together with regard to immigration, documentation and border security. Virginia should do what’s best for Virginians (allow these folks to be insured, cash their checks, drive their cars, participate in the community) rather than piggyback state law on an absolutely failed federal debacle.

      • Aaron,

        Why not just use the term “illegal alien”? The term “undocumented immigrant” affords as much response as does “unlicensed pharmacist”, as opposed to drug dealers.

        They’ve broken criminal law just by illegally penetrating our borders, and you want to reward them by giving them official credentials of the Commonwealth of Virginia?

        Were I in the House of Delegates, I’d be introducing legislation to mirror what Arizona has implemented — which poll numbers indicate 70% of Americans OUTSIDE of Arizona support.

        • cook says:

          Dave, I’ll change the term so that you can get past that red herring to the point of my comment – which remains unanswered.

          In Virginia, for several years now we – emphasis: we – have refused to allow illegal aliens to obtain driver’s licenses which means they cannot purchase automobile insurance. Therefore, your stats on these questions with regard to illegal aliens in Virginia should be approaching 100%.

          It seems to me that we are shooting ourselves in the foot with such policies. The feds cannot (or, more likely, will not) get their act together with regard to immigration, documentation and border security. Virginia should do what’s best for Virginians (allow these folks to be insured, cash their checks, drive their cars, participate in the community) rather than piggyback state law on an absolutely failed federal debacle.

          • It’s not a red herring, Aaron. I’ll concede we need to fix “legal” immigration. In fact, I believe you, or some others, were on this blog years ago telling us that a “first offense” penetration of this country’s borders wasn’t even a criminal offense.

            It is ab absurdity of the highest order to give people in our country and thus, our state, illegally government issued identification for any purpose simply because they shouldn’t be here in the first place.

            Now let’s assume, Aaron, we give them all Virginia drivers licenses…it would naturally follow that they might want to exercise certain privileges that goes along with having a valid Virginia drivers license.

            Would you be in favor of giving, potentially huge numbers of foreign nationals the ability to acquire weapons with those nice, shiny drivers licenses?

            I, for one, would not be.

          • cook says:

            Looks like we’ve run out of thread, Dave. Not sure where this comment will land on the web page …

            And, dang, Dave, for being a big libertarian-freedom-loving-Second-Amendment-gun guy, you pull out this gun-grabber-scare-tactic argument?? What’s the world coming to? Or is this part of your campaign for votes in the 26th?

            OK. Now to respond. Virginia Code 18.2-308.2:01 prohibits persons unlawfully present in the US to possess a firearm. It has nothing to do with whether a person has an operator’s license from DMV.

          • Now, Aaron, the first argument I would make if I were here illegally, granted a drivers license, and denied the right to purchase a firearm is that I’ve obviously been granted lawful status by the Commonwealth of Virginia because he’s my nice, new shiny Virginia drivers license with my Virginia address…Obviously no state with their right mind would have given me state-issued papers, unless I was in that state legally, would they Mr. Judge?

            Now, assuming these people are upstanding dirvers in their own countries, they appear not necessarily to be required to have a drivers license here.

            See § 46.2-307. Nonresidents licensed under laws of home state or country; extension of reciprocal privileges.

          • Sorry, I’m pretty sure I meant “drivers”, not “dirvers”.

          • Hmmm….This little tidbit was pulled DIRECTLY off of Arizona’s new immigration law:

            “A person is presumed to not be an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States if the person provides to the law enforcement officer or agency any of the following:

            1. A valid Arizona driver license.”

            So just give someone a government-issued drivers license and the presumption that they’re here ILLEGALLY seems to fall away, just like that.

  15. Renee says:

    Christa and Anna, I’m really glad no one was hurt and I hope they work this out so no one that wasn’t at fault bears the brunt of the cost!

  16. Dave;
    Your inner-Republican is showing. We need to quit waxing on about perfection (eg; abstinence, abortion, deregulation, no taxes) and start living in the real world. Undocumented aliens live amongst us – we need to license their driving and document their insurance BEFORE they get arrested for causing property damage and injury. We’ll save the nation latter.

    • Bubby, as I cited above, if they’re licensed to drive in their home country, we don’t need to license them here.

      If they’re here legally, then I have no problem licensing them…neither should anyone else.

      • Even under DL reciprocity with another country you still enroll them in our licensing system, and track the status of their Virginia insurance coverage. The current system in Virginia just denies their existence – ask Christa what that means. Maybe she can get his Mexican insurer to pony up after a suit in Mexico.

        • Bubby, has anyone determined the guy’s legal status? If he hasn’t passed the predicate act of being here legally, then after whatever court proceedings occur, he needs to be held for deportation by ICE.

          Nobody in their right mind would want illegals to have government issued IDs…once given, other states may grant them their documents when they turn in a Virginia license to get there’s.

          The answer’s not granting these people government issued IDs.

          • That’s easy, you just stamp the license “undocumented alien citizen”. And require insurance, or immediate arrest. The identification conveys where ever they go. No confusion about their status.

            Deporting him relieves him of responsibility for paying for Christa’s loss. Locking him up for immigration status does the same thing. Both add additional costs to the taxpayer.

            We are assuming that he is not here legally, therefore is prohibited by Virginia from getting a DL, and that as a result Virginia is party to Gitchell’s loss.

          • Emmy says:

            I love that this whole thread has turned into a rant on illegal immigrants because of the fact that he’s Hispanic and doesn’t have insurance. Hispanic without car insurance does not have to equal illegal immigrant even if it is a common occurrence. Could we not at least wait until we do know his status?

            While we’re at it could we crack down on ALL drivers without insurance regardless of their status in this country? I mean we can deport the illegals if they don’t have it and get in an accident…but what about citizens of this country who don’t have it? There are plenty of those people too.

          • But if you give him/her a drivers license with such a stamp on it:

            1) They’re no longer undocumented because you’ve given them a document, and;

            2) If they’re undocumented, just exactly how do we know who we’re giving the license to?

  17. Samantha says:

    We used to give illegal drivers Virginia drivers’ licenses. They just had to have a friend fill out an affidavit attesting to their Virginia address.

    Then September 11 happened and several of the hijackers had Virginia drivers’ licenses even though their student visas had expired. So the Commonwealth decided to get tough about documentation required for licenses. Our completely inadequate and incompetent INS (or ICE or whatever it is now) failed to prevent those 9/11 guys from staying here on expired visas, etc. That’s what’s wrong with illegal immigration. Yeah, lots of illegals just want to make a living for their families but if we don’t know who’s coming across the borders, we get terrorists, drug dealers and gang members along with the hardworking people just looking to make a living.
    I don’t buy the let them have licenses because they’re here anyway argument. If you reward a bad behavior, you get more of it. How about when someone is found to be driving without insurance or proper tags or drivers license because they’re illegal, we send them home? Until the federal government takes up its constitutional duty to defend and control the borders, the states are left twisting in the wind and have to try to come up with things on their own.

    I was once run into by a Valley born driver with no insurance. He lied and said he had insurance but it had been cancelled because he didn’t pay the premiums. I was sure glad I had plenty of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage!!!!

    • Well Samantha, while you are moralizing about not rewarding illegals and sending them home – you are giving them an free pass to not meet their financial liability obligations and giving them a free plane ticket to escape. As a result your (and my) insurance rates are higher – somebody has to pay for the damage to Gitchell Photography.

      Uninsured motorist insurance won’t help Christa – her car was miles away, and undamaged when the loss occurred.

    • Delataire says:

      The last time I was at the DMV a hispanic woman pulled out three separate SSNs before having one that matched her “documents” and they let her pass anyway with a nice new license. WTF!

      • David Miller says:

        The problem is that you have an inequity in our society in which we deny legal rights such as the ability to do business within one’s own identity to immigrants. Either build a giant laser wall through which no human can surmount around our entire 7494 border (not to mention the sea lasers we’ll need ;) or fix the problem with a real world solution that places human rights first.

  18. Emmy;
    Uninsured licensed Virginia drivers get flagged when they let their insurance drop – Virginia law requires insurance companies to report them. Lack of insurance then becomes an offense resulting in immediate suspension of license. Driving with no license becomes another offense.

    Said unlicensed, uninsured driver damages my property, my uninsured motorist coverage picks up the tab and the insurance company turns around and wins a certain judgment against the scofflaw. I want said scofflaw to either 1)surrender their double-wide, Richard Petty collectibles, and 12 acres in satisfaction of the judgment, making my insurance company whole, or 2) The scofflaw to remain gainfully employed and wages garnished until the debt is paid.

    The last thing I want is for the loser to escape the country on the taxpayer’s dime, or sit in prison on the taxpayer’s dime.

    • Emmy says:

      I agree that something needs to be done to make sure that the debt is paid and just deporting the person isn’t going to help those who suffered in the situation.

  19. Christa says:

    Kind of incredible that this thread has gone to 60 comments and I appreciate the concern and all comments, but bottom line is, that I have good insurance for my building. This is the very FIRST claim I have ever made. Ever. I have a $1000.00 deductible which is pretty tough to swallow, but it keeps my premiums smaller. What pisses me off worse than anything is that I have to change the whole look of my store front…they don’t make glass that large anymore. I have been told that they will have to cut the window in half, so to speak, and it will stand out like a sore thumb and I can’t afford to do the other window the same way. I know it’s a pretty trivial matter that my windows won’t match, but it’s MY building and I shouldn’t have to be dealing with this. I will have to settle with what the insurance co. will give me and they could give a damn about putting the window back to it’s original state. I can guarantee that I will go after this guy in civil court and take his vehicles and home if I have to so that I am compensated for my loss. His misery will be my personal mission. Yes, I am angry.

    • Drew says:

      “but it’s MY building and I shouldn’t have to be dealing with this”- Christa

      Stuff happens in life! Deal with it. Could be worse….

      • Christa says:

        After a great nights sleep last night, I woke up with that exact thought in mind Drew. Good grief…no one was hurt and it’s just a building. Seems pretty small compared to some people’s problems.

    • Bell says:

      “His misery will be my personal mission.” Really Christa? People make mistakes, that’s a pretty harsh statement to make about someone for running a stop sign. It’s not like your building was HIS personal mission.

      • Christa says:

        Yeah Chris, it was harsh. It’s all good though that the guy doesn’t carry insurance. I’m HAPPY to carry those idiots that think they are above the laws.

      • citydweller says:

        re bell: in defense of christa just a bit…yes mistakes do happen, but mistakes behind the wheel of a car should not happen. how do you miss a stop sign? if you are not paying attention due to talking on a cell phone etc…that is not a mistake-that is a poor choice. if you missed the stop sign because you are too tired etc…then you shouldn’t be driving. the point being that yes mistakes do happen such as burning a meal, yelling at someone when you should take a moment to calm down ,but a mistake behind the wheel of a car in which could kill someone should not happen. also the driver did not have insurance which is against the law yet he knowingly got behind the wheel of a car. that is not a mistake-that is purposefully breaking the law.

Reader Tweets

Latest Flickr photos in the hburgnews Flickr pool
Announcements & Press Releases
  • Friendly City Grand Opening Set for July 9

    Friendly City Food Co-Op, Harrisonburg’s consumer-owned grocery, invites the community to come see its new destination for natural, organic and locally-produced products at the store’s grand opening 11 a.m.-5 p.m. July 9 at 150 East Wolfe Street.

  • Friendly City Becomes Member of National Cooperative Grocers Association

    HARRISONBURG, VA — Friendly City Food Co-op, slated to open this month in Harrisonburg, Va., has become the newest member of the National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA), a business services cooperative serving 120 consumer-owned food co-ops nationwide.

  • Harrisonburg Recognized as a Bike Friendly Community

    May 2: Harrisonburg was honored when the League of American Bicyclists announced the latest round of Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) designations over the weekend to kick off May as National Bike Month.