ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Three buildings in the city of St. Augustine now need repairs after being damaged by cars in about a two-week timespan.
The Llambias House and St. Francis Inn are both historical buildings on St. Francis Street that were left damaged -- the Llambia House last week and the St. Francis Inn about two weeks ago, according to workers there.
“It’s been a rough couple of weeks for downtown St. Augustine,” said Magen Wilson, executive director of the St. Augustine Historical Society.
Wilson told News4Jax the Llambias House is the third historic wall operated by the St. Augustine Historical Society to be hit in less than four years within just one block. She said she believes more awareness is needed for drivers in the historic city.
“We have got these very unique, narrow streets that are lined with historic homes, and often those homes have low lying balconies," Wilson said Monday. “It’s a special city, but there needs to be an awareness and appreciation and understanding that, when you are in downtown St. Augustine, you really need to slow down.”
About a mile north of the two historic buildings is a local business that was also left damaged by a vehicle. According to St. Augustine police, it was about 2:15 a.m. Sunday when a 14-year-old female driver took her mother’s SUV for a joyride and ended up slamming the vehicle into Antiques and Things at the corner of San Marco and Cincinnati avenues.
Despite approximately $50,000 in damages, the shop remains open for business. The antique store’s owner told News4Jax that he is thankful no one was seriously injured.
According to an offense report by the St. Augustine Police Department, a patrolling officer saw the teenage driver jump a curb trying to get into a fast-food parking lot. While trying to pull the vehicle over, according to the report, the driver took off at a high rate of speed, blew through a stop sign and crashed into the antique shop before she and three other juveniles ran away from the scene of the crash.
The report stated the officer gave a loud verbal command for everyone to stop running, but they scattered around the area. The 14-year-old driver was apprehended, along with a male passenger who police said had a 9 mm bullet in his pocket, which was discovered during a search. Police said the teen told them another teen who ran off had a gun.
Hours after the crash, another local business owner said he found a gun and ammunition behind his store, which is right across the street from where the crash happened. Police said the gun was reported stolen in St. Johns County just three days earlier. As of Monday afternoon, officers said they had not been able to link the bullet found on the teen to the gun discovered nearby, but they said the caliber of the bullet matches that of the firearm.
Police contacted the 14-year-old driver’s mother after the crash. The mother, who reached out to News4Jax and asked not to be identified, said she asked for the teen to be placed under arrest so she could "feel the full weight of her reckless actions.”
“I never ever gave permission to my girl to drive my car so she took it while I was sleeping, however, I didn’t file felony charges (for stealing the car) against my girl because that could follow her for her entire adult life,” the mother wrote in an email.
The 14-year-old is charged for driving without a license and leaving the scene of an accident. St. Augustine police said the two other teens who ran off had not been located as of Monday afternoon.