SMITHFIELD – A woman who struck a Smithfield church with her car causing significant damage has now been charged with driving while impaired and child abuse.
At 12:23am Tuesday, first responders were dispatched to the Freedom Baptist Church on N. Brightleaf Boulevard at Hancock Street. Phasia Rachelle Jones, 25, of Beale Street, Dunn was operating a 2015 Chevy passenger car southbound on N. Brightleaf Boulevard when she ran off the roadway to the right, went airborne, then collided with the side of the church. Police said the car traveled about 10 feet inside the church.
Jones and two children in the vehicle, ages 1 and 4, were briefly trapped inside the car. They were transported to Johnston Health for treatment of minor injuries.
Police obtained a blood sample from Jones at the hospital.
Pastor Mike Walls said this was the third time in recent years the church has been struck by a car than ran off the roadway. He said the car damaged the nursery and two bathrooms. Due to the extensive damage, a building inspector condemned that portion of the church as being unsafe. Walls is hopeful the other section of the church can be used Sunday to hold worship services. If not, he hopes to combine services with another local church until the building is repaired.
Walls said he would not let the damage set him or his church back. While on the scene Tuesday morning, the pastor said he was reminded of a poem. “He maketh no mistakes. The Lord knew about this all along that it was going to happen. The Lord knows how to take care of it and he is doing it.”
Pastor Walls said he has a message for the driver who struck Freedom Baptist Church. “Don’t drink and drive. That was exactly what she was doing.”