'I didn't realize they cared': Golden Gate man finds community support after hit-and-run crash damages home
Here's what you should do if you have been in a crash. Naples Daily News
A Golden Gate man is rebuilding with help from the community after a hit-and-run crash destroyed part of his home.
Joseph Jean Yves Martel, who goes by John, lives in a house at 52nd Street Southwest and 28th Place Southwest. A truck crashed through the side of his home just after 1 a.m. Saturday, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Martel, 67, said he was asleep at the time.
“I woke up big time,” Martel said. “I was covered in pieces of wood and drywall.”
Martel was trapped and had to be removed by firefighters, he said. Martel was transported to NCH Baker Hospital Downtown with minor injuries.
“I am still depressed about it,” Martel said Wednesday. “My house is still a mess.”
Blue tarp covers the portion of the home damaged. Neighbors helped clean up debris from the garage and bedroom damaged from the incident, Martel said.
An entire dumpster was filled with debris and it took about two and a half hours to clear it all out with help from neighbors, Martel said.
The incident was the second time a vehicle has run into his home in the past 15 years, Martel said. It can be difficult to tell the road turns and a stoplight or better signage and lighting could prevent future crashes, he said.
One community member is hoping to get donations from Lowe’s to help Martel repair his home, Martel said.
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The incident left him without transportation because his two vehicles, parked in his driveway and garage, were totaled, Martel said. He does not have insurance on his home.
One of Martel’s neighbors created a GoFundMe account in hopes of gathering financial support for Martel from the community.
“If this was my parent or family member or friend, I would hope to have people that would come together and help,” the description of the GoFundMe account reads. “We are asking our friends and family and family of friends to help.”
The GoFundMe page was created by Crystal Morris, who has lived next to Martel for more than 15 years, according to the page.
Morris could not be reached for comment before publication, but Martel said he is thankful for all the help he has received from her and other community members.
“I am totally grateful,” Martel said. “I didn’t realize they cared. It’s great.”
The Florida Highway Patrol has a person of interest in the hit-and-run crash but are not releasing a name due to the active investigation, Lt. Greg Bueno said.
The incident first began when the driver of a 2007 Ford F150 was headed west on Golden Gate Parkway in the left turn lane for 53rd Street Southwest at about 1:10 a.m. Saturday.
Niya Antoine, 34, of Naples, was driving a 2013 Cadillac CTS east on Golden Gate Parkway in the left lane. The driver of the Ford turned in front of Antoine, who hit the truck, according to FHP.
Antoine suffered minor injuries in the crash.
The truck's driver fled by heading south on 53rd Street Southwest before traveling off the road and into the driveway of Martel’s home.
The truck hit Martel’s 2002 Toyota Tundra parked in the driveway, pushing the Toyota into the garage and bedroom of the home.
The crash also pushed Martel’s 1987 Toyota Celica, parked in the garage, into a wall of the home.
The driver of the truck fled from the scene of the crash on foot. Martel is staying in a portion of the home that was not damaged as he works on repairs.
The incident remains under investigation with charges pending, according to FHP.
Those with information are asked to contact the Florida Highway Patrol or Crimestoppers.