Resident Says Fortuitous Timing Likely Saved Her Children

EAST HANOVER, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — It was a terrifying Tuesday morning for some homeowners.

At around 8 a.m., a garbage truck was making pick-ups on Daniel Drive when it went out of control, police said.

The truck drove across several lawns and crashed into a home before immediately bursting into flames, police said.

The accident caused so much damage that the house was deemed unsafe and had to be demolished.

Just a pile of debris remains where the house once stood.

Resident Sandra Guillaume told CBS 2’s Don Champion time was on her family’s side Tuesday morning.

“We had just got the kids out of the bedroom two minutes prior, just getting ready for them to leave the house and go to school,” she told Champion. “Felt the house shaking and heard a loud explosion.”

The children’s room was right above where a garbage truck slammed into their home. They were not injured.

“The fire just kept escalating,” one witness told Champion. “It was a little nerve-wracking, but knowing that the people were out of the home, it wasn’t that bad.”

A neighbor helped pull the truck driver out.

The driver told police he sneezed before the accident, possibly causing a bottle to get lodged under the truck brake.

“Every time I look at it, I’m still shaking,” next-door neighbor Lana Tilipman told Champion.

There are tire tracks on Tilipman’s front yard, showing just how close the truck came to her house. She said she only realized something was amiss when she heard a loud boom.

“All of a sudden through my living room window, I see a garbage truck inside the house and I was like, ‘Oh my God, what’s going on?'” Tilipman told Champion.

Hours after the crash, garbage in the truck was still flaming.


The family renting the home was able to get a few things out before the place they knew for two years was torn down.

“I’m just in shock, still can’t believe it,” Guillaume told Champion.

The Red Cross is working to help the family find a temporary place to stay.

The smoldering remains of a garbage truck after crashing into a home in East Hanover, N.J. on May 7, 2013. (credit: CBS 2)

The smoldering remains of a garbage truck after crashing into a home in East Hanover, N.J. on May 7, 2013. (credit: CBS 2)

The truck was from Tassielli Disposal of Rockaway, N.J., police said.

Investigators are looking into whether speed was a factor in the crash. Charges are possible against the driver, who suffered injuries to his face and head.

A second worker on the back of the truck jumped to safety just before impact.

The driver was taken to an area hospital with non-life threatening injuries, police said.

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