WATERFORD TWP., Mich. (WJBK) - An early morning accident claimed the life of a 36-year-old man from Waterford and in the wake of the tragedy, a long-time business in the community will also have to rebuild.
It was a somber scene Friday morning as a man is killed. All that was left was his burned out car coming to a rest right outside Leapin Lizards Childcare. Thankfully, no one was inside but neighbors were standing by in disbelief.
"Unfortunately this morning, I wish I would've been here sooner," said Russell Wright, a neighbor.
Police say around 3:30 a.m. Friday that Waterford man had been driving his 2009 GMC Acadia eastbound on Walton near Clintonville Road, an intersection Russell Wright knows well.
"It's always been a bad intersection," Wright said. "Even when it was just a two-lane road. People just drive too fast. They don't realize when they hit that bridge there is a bump and they lose control."
Police say it appears the car ran off of the road, hit a utility pole and then two trees before sliding into the daycare and catching fire.
Waterford police are now working to find out what exactly caused the accident. While they don't believe alcohol contributed, speed may have.
"There was pretty good impact on a tree, the first tree," said a police officer. “And then the second tree, it clipped it right off. That would indicate there was some high velocity impact."
Julie Ownby, the co-owner of Leapin' Lizards Childcare, got a call Friday morning and was told her building was on fire.
"My heart sank because we didn't know the extent of the damage, the extent of the damage," she said. "Or if have to be closed permanently."
Ownby says the building is nearly 200 years old and the daycare has been here for close to 12 years, but she certainly knows this could have been much worse.
"There could've been children here and luckily there were not," she said. "None of the kids were hurt; our families are displaced for a little while. We're going to repair as quickly as we can to get them back."
As parents have created a GoFundMe page to get the repairs started, Ownby says she plans to put a guardrail around the entire building.
She says she can't help but think of those affected even more by all of this.
"I'm very sad for the man and for his family," she said. "And I hope they find some peace in any way they can."