The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

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May 11, 2012

Holy crash! Car hits church

Driver cites ‘civil disobedience’

HERMITAGE — A New England woman who crashed her car Wednesday into a Hermitage church sanctuary told police it was an act of civil disobedience.

“I did this as a demonstration of my faith in God and I demand to go to jail,” Kathleen M. Descy told police, who were called at 3:48 p.m.

Police obliged her request, and District Judge D. Neil McEwen set bail at $75,000, high enough that she likely will stay in jail for a while.

Jim Reda, property chairman of Faith Presbyterian Church, 2370 N. Hermitage Road, said it will take some time to repair and replace all of the damage, but the building is secure and structurally sound, and there will be no delay in regular activities.

“We should be open for services on Sunday, in the sanctuary,” said Reda, who also is the city’s assistant fire marshal.

Sunday’s service begins at 11 a.m., with Sunday school at 9:30 a.m.

Descy, 59, of Ellington, Conn., was charged with causing catastrophe, institutional vandalism, criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and trespass by motor vehicle. She faces a preliminary hearing at 11:15 a.m. next Thursday before District Judge Ronald E. Antos, Farrell.

Youth pastor John Madison was in the church at the time, but was not hurt. Neither was Descy, police said.

“We’re just glad it didn’t happen Sunday,” said Deputy Chief Brian Blair.

The PT Cruiser crashed in the east side double doors, through a second set of double doors, went through a lobby, smashed through a set of double doors into the sanctuary, and took out several rows of pews.

Reda said the car traveled about 100 feet from the front door to the inner sanctuary.

Descy tried to drive out the way she went in, but the car got stuck between the two sets of double doors by the entrance.

Descy showed no signs of intoxication, police said.

McEwen ordered a mental health evaluation.

Police said they do not know why Descy crashed into Faith Presbyterian. Descy told police she had left the interstate at about 10 a.m.

The church is celebrating its 175th anniversary and a prize relic from the original church - which was in Clark - is a stained glass window, roughly 5-feet by 3-feet, that was displayed above the sanctuary doors.

“The car hit it,” Reda said. “It landed and survived.”

Some of the pews might be able to be saved, but other pews, carpeting, doors and parts of walls will have to be repaired or replaced, he said.

“The congregation survived 175 years so far,” Reda said. “This is not going to stop it.”

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