A Chevrolet Trailblazer left East Main Street and ran into New Beginnings Ministry Church in Niles at around 5 p.m. Tuesday. The church’s northwest side sustained some cosmetic damage. Daily Star photo/CRAIG HAUPERT

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Car hits Niles church

Published 7:51pm Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Twelve-year-old Eryn Lane was sitting in the stairwell of New Beginnings Ministry church in Niles Tuesday when she saw a red sports utility vehicle leave the road and head toward her.

“I couldn’t get up, I was so shocked,” Lane said. “I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”

The Chevy Trailblazer missed Lane, but struck the northwest side of the church, dislodging several bricks and startling the people inside.

“It felt like the whole church was shaking,” said Shaqueita Blakemore, a South Bend resident who was in the church practicing a flag ceremony.

Lane’s mother, Kristi, was inside the church too.

“It was loud and shook the whole building,” said Kristi Lane, of Niles.

The Trailblazer was traveling south on East Main Street at about 5 p.m. when it left the road for an unknown reason and headed for the church, located in the 1000 block of East Main Street.

Niles Fire Chief Larry Lamb said the driver of the vehicle, a male, was taken to a hospital by Southwestern Michigan Community Ambulance Service. The driver was placed on a stretcher after being extricated from the vehicle.

Niles police assisted.

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