SOUTH SALT LAKE — The last thing 10-year-old Jennifer Ramirez remembers is sitting with her Chromebook at the dinner table.
The next thing she remembers is waking up outside her basement apartment surrounded by people after being pulled out from under a car that had just crashed through the home.
“I thought it was a dream,” Jennifer said.
On Jan. 22, a Hyundai sedan was turning into the parking lot of an apartment complex at 331 E. Summer Pine Lane (about 3400 South) when the vehicle crashed into Jennifer’s apartment, going through a wall into the dining area, then continuing through the living room and out the entrance, knocking out the door frame and a large chunk of concrete.
What caused the driver to go through the building was still being investigated on Friday. The building was determined to be structurally unsafe and five families were displaced because of the crash, according to South Salt Lake police.
Jennifer and her 6-month-old sister miraculously suffered only minor injuries after being pinned by the car and debris from the destroyed living room.
On Friday, Jennifer, wearing a neck brace, spoke publicly for the first time about the incident while standing with her sister, mother and a South Salt Lake police victims advocate who acted as an interpreter for the mother who only speaks Spanish.
All six members of Jennifer’s family were home that day, including her 14-year-old sister, Citlalli Ramirez.
“We were just eating dinner, Jennifer was on her Chromebook. And all of a sudden, a car just came in. And like, it all felt like it was going in slow motion because, I just saw light coming out. ... I didn’t realize that we had a window there. And then I saw there was a hole,” Citlalli said.
After the crash, she looked around for her sisters and couldn’t find them. Then she spotted them under the vehicle.
“I panicked. I was scared,” Citlalli said.
Their mother’s partner was able to pull both girls out from the debris. Everyone then went outside for safety due to the crash rupturing the natural gas lines connected to the apartment.
Jennifer was unconscious as she was carried outside.
“It was scary because the first thing that came to mind was, ‘What if they die, or if they get seriously hurt?’” Citlalli said.
“We were just having dinner, we were just eating at the table. Then all of a sudden we just see this car coming through the side of the apartment, and it landed on top of Jennifer and the baby,” the girls’ mother, Juana Beatriz “Betty” Segura, recalled. “It’s a miracle. Thanks to God they’re still alive. The car hit the dining room table and hit the couch, and my two kids ended up underneath the car.”
While Segura, speaking through interpreter Daniel Hernandez with the South Salt Lake Police Department, said she is extremely grateful that her daughters did not suffer any long-term physical injuries, the accident has left her family with nothing.
All of their belongings that weren’t destroyed are still inside the apartment. They have not been allowed to go back in to the damaged apartment. For five days after the incident, the family stayed at a hotel before the apartment managers gave them a new unit to live in.
But now, six people are living in an empty room.
“We don’t have anything. We’re eating on the floor. When it comes to mattresses, I was able to purchase two inflatable mattresses, and that’s what I’ve been using. When it comes to clothes, a co-worker gave us some,” Segura said.
“It’s a little complicated,” Citlalli added about their current living situation. “But I’m just happy that my family is OK.”
The Chromebooks the girls were using for classes were destroyed in the crash but have since been replaced by their school so they can continue online learning.
While Segura said her employer, Hunter Douglas, has been very supportive in helping her and her family, she said the apartment managers have not.
“They are still charging us for rent. They’re not understanding that I still had to pay for a hotel, because that’s where I went after the accident. And I still have to pay for food and other necessities for my family. But they’re still demanding that I pay them the rent, which I don’t have at this moment,” Segura said, while noting she is currently not working to tend to Jennifer.
The family said, however, they are appreciative of those in the community who have stepped up to the plate to help.
A GoFundMe page has been set up by the family to help pay for expenses.