Car crashes through community center wall

By Alex Bridges

Part of the Warren County Community Center remains closed after a car crashed through a wall in the building Saturday morning.

The county closed off the large meeting room, referred to as the assembly hall, and an adjacent space in the community center at 538 Villa Ave., Front Royal. The other three meeting spaces in the former Samuels Public Library building are still available. County Administrator Douglas Stanley said Tuesday he expects a contractor to begin repairs this week and complete the work in about 30 to 45 days.

County employees met with a contractor at the facility early Saturday to discuss the damage and necessary repairs. The contractor estimated the damage at $75,000, Stanley said.

“I’m certainly glad nobody was seriously hurt in this situation and the building wasn’t occupied,” Stanley said.

A cost estimate for damage to fences on the nearby Randolph-Macon Academy property was not available Tuesday.

The county completed renovations to the former library in 2011 and approximately $700,000 in grants covered most of the cost. The community center serves as a popular meeting venue for residents and local civic groups.

Front Royal police responded to the center at approximately 1 a.m. for a report of an alarm sounding from the building. Officers arrived and found a large hole in the rear of the building, Chief Norman Shiflett said Tuesday. The officers found a 2011 Chevrolet Cruze inside the building and the driver nearby.

Officers identified the driver as Mario Yaxcal-Pec, according to the incident report. Shiflett said police charged him with reckless driving and driving on a suspended license, Shiflett said. The driver is scheduled to appear in the General District Court July 8. Shiflett said.

The incident report filed for the crash notes that it appeared the car traveled south on North Shenandoah Avenue, crossed Kendrick Lane and went through a fence on Randolph-Macon Academy property. The car continued to travel on the school’s field, through another fence and then into the community center parking lot. The vehicle broke through a rear wall of the building and then came to a stop inside the center.

The Warren County Department of Fire and Rescue Services also responded to the scene to assess any injuries to the driver. The incident report states that officers found the driver sitting in a chair inside the community center and reading a book. The report indicates the driver told officers “he was brought here to fight the war of the worlds and advised that God drove him to the location.”

The driver passed several field sobriety tests conducted by the officers, the report states. Responders took the driver to Warren Memorial Hospital for an assessment following comments he made to officers at the scene.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or