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RX-7 Flies off freeway, crashes into classroom
Submitted by SuperUser on Friday, May 10, 2002 - 12:00am


A car reportedly traveling nearly 100 mph flew out of control and veered off Interstate 80, crashing into the window of a Heald Business College classroom in Roseville on Thursday morning.

The driver, identified as 21-year-old Landon Christopher Graves of Antelope, and three students suffered minor injuries.

Graves was traveling between 90 and 100 mph, heading west on I-80 about 11:20 a.m., when he tried to change lanes and struck the left rear of a van, said California Highway Patrol Officer Maury Kane said.

Graves lost control of his Mazda RX-7 and careened across three lanes of traffic and an onramp lane from Atlantic Street, Kane said.

"He had so much speed left that the car went up an embankment and the car was launched over the perimeter fence and crashed through the window of the college," Kane said.

The car sailed through the air and over a chain-link fence an estimated 50 feet before striking the classroom window.

"It was somewhat surreal," Roseville Fire Marshal Dennis Mathisen said. "You could see the back half of this vehicle sticking out of the window and it was up off the ground."

The car crashed into a computer lab where class was in session.

"The car is most of the way into the window, but the front corner of the driver's side caught the edge of the wall, and I think that's what helped stop the vehicle," Mathisen said. "If it had been just a little bit farther to the right, it may have gone all the way in and things could've been a lot worse."

Heald Business College Director Ed Hardenbrook said the building shook because it was hit with such force.

"It was like a sonic boom," Hardenbrook said. "I thought maybe it was a low-flying jet."

Teachers and staff evacuated the students from two computer classes, and the college was closed for the rest of the day.

Graves suffered lacerations and bruises to his face, arms and legs. He was taken to Sutter Roseville Medical Center and was reported in good condition late Thursday afternoon.

The three injured Heald students were identified as Justin Wages, 26, of Lincoln; Sam Bledsoe, 22, of Sacramento; and Jerret Cram, 25, of Roseville.

All three students were taken to Sutter Roseville Medical Center, treated and released, the hospital said.

Hardenbrook said the college will bring in a chaplain today for any students who may need counseling because of the incident.

"This could have been a tragic accident," he said. "We are extremely lucky that no one was seriously hurt."

He said the college will take a hard look at its proximity to the freeway and determine later whether there is anything it can do to make the building safer.

Meanwhile, the CHP is continuing to investigate the accident. Kane said Graves will likely be charged with driving at an unsafe speed and other violations. About the Writer ---------------------------

The Bee's Art Campos can be reached at (916) 773-2825 or The Bee's Jennifer K. Morita can be reached at (916) 773-7388 or

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