All the sunshine and spring pollen had Cathy Chiocca drifting, thinking about change. Maybe, in the morning, she'd pull up the red azaleas that were clashing with the pink ones lining her front porch facing Laburnum Avenue. Maybe she'd buy a new car.
The night before Mother's Day, with both of her daughters out for the evening, Chiocca was watching "Saturday Night Live" in her second-floor bedroom when she heard tires screeching from the street. She peered out the window and saw a dark sedan careening toward her Ford Taurus, parked just ahead of her neighbor's eggplant-purple Dodge Caravan along the curb.
Within seconds there was a "yellow-orange glow from the impact," Chiocca says. She felt the house shudder, and she instinctively ducked. When she peered back out of the window, the Caravan was gone.
She pulled on some clothes and dashed down the stairs and onto her covered brick porch, where she found the minivan.
"The front bumper is right here on my porch," Chiocca recalls. "It creamed my azaleas." Curiously, there were no tracks or flattened grass behind the van. Apparently the impact had launched neighbor Chip Lovelace's van airborne over the curb and onto the lawn more than 10 feet. Then, from the porch, Chiocca saw a green flash and the power went out.
The minivan was just one of five vehicles that Theresa Stokley, 44, hit that night. She'd sideswiped Chiocca's champagne Taurus, pushed a 1993 Jeep Cherokee onto the sidewalk, hit a two-door Saturn and overturned Les McLean's aluminum teardrop trailer.
McLean, who lives around the corner on MacArthur Avenue, sleeps in the trailer with his dog, Mali, when he visits his sister in Canada. Police estimate $10,500 worth of damage to it.
"You'd just think you'd stop after the first or maybe second [car you hit]," Chiocca says. "How could she do so much damage? Was it a tank? A Humvee?"
Four-door Infiniti, actually.
Richmond Police apprehended Stokley in the 1700 block of Laburnum shortly after midnight. Dominion Virginia Power reports the power went out after a car took out one of its poles at the same location around the same time. Police arrested her on charges of driving under the influence, refusing to take a Breathalyzer test and participating in s hit-and-run.
The next morning, Mother's Day, Chiocca grabbed an old video camera to document the damage. SClick here for more News and Features