Drunk driver crashes through church entrance

The car narrowly missed a group of high school students.
Police investigate the front of First Presbyterian Church on Hitt Street on Friday night after a car crashed into the front of the building. Scott Robinson, the driver of the car, was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated.

An intoxicated driver crashed a car through the side of First Presbyterian Church on Friday on Hitt Street.

Scott Robinson, 21, was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, first-degree property damage and first-degree assault of a law enforcement officer.

When Columbia Police Officer Patrick Corcoran attempted to pull Robinson over on suspicion that he was driving under the influence, Robinson refused to stop, driving his car onto the sidewalk of the church and striking a pole.

Robinson then reversed his vehicle, colliding with Corcoran’s patrol vehicle. Fearing for his safety, Corcoran then exited his vehicle, after which Robinson accelerated into the side of the church, propelling the car approximately 170 feet into the sanctuary before striking a wall and coming to a stop.

Corcoran ran into the church where he took the suspect into custody. Corcoran was taken to the hospital after the incident but sustained no serious injuries. At the time of the incident, 50 high school students were attending a retreat in the sanctuary.

No students were injured, but Elizabeth Garrett, an elder of the church’s ruling body and MU professor, said the accident was a close call and that the incident scared the kids attending the retreat.

“We had some kids who the car went by a few rows away,” Garrett said. “That's pretty crazy for 10-, 11- and- 12-year olds.”

She said had the accident happened next weekend, when the church would be full for the True/False Film Fest, it could have been much worse.

“It could have been just horrific,” she said. “So there’s a lot to say thanks for.”

Robinson’s blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit, CPD spokeswoman Jill Wieneke said in an e-mail. She said the police are still unsure of his motive for driving into the church, but that cases of drinking and driving are a frequent occurrence in Columbia.

“I would say DWI arrests are made on a daily basis in Columbia,” Wieneke said.

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