Careening car takes out statuary, misses people

Friday, March 30, 2012
Mildred Parker / Courtesy photo Hitting the gas instead of the brake sent this car careening backward over the embankment at St. Elizabeth's Church on Crescent Drive in Eureka Springs just as most of the parishioners leaving Sunday Mass had cleared the walkway.

A car less well built than this 1999 Malibu, and its driver, may not have fared as well when they shot over the embankment onto the walkway at St. Elizabeth's Church on Sunday. As it was, Joseph Meuser was able to be helped from the scene uninjured.

According to witness reports, Meuser was backing out of a parking spot below the Crescent Hotel when he apparently hit the gas hard instead of the brake and went over the hill, taking out Italian marble statuary in the Stations of the Cross before landing sideways in the church walkway, as pictured above.

"I was on the walkway taking pictures when this car came over the edge," said witness Mildred Parker.

"I saw the car coming down and ran to get out of the way. Church was just over and people were leaving ... fortunately, most were already gone, although some were still visiting in front of the church.

"This picture was taken immediately after the car hit the walkway -- and no one had yet made it to the car. My husband was on the street on top and said the car just shot over the edge. It was a very scary time and it was a miracle that people were not on that walkway," Parker said.

A report filed by Eureka Springs Police Officer James Rusterholz noted the driver agreed to go with a friend to be checked out at the hospital, although he appeared uninjured and said he was "fine."

The car was towed in fairly good shape considering its detour and an estimated $7,000 worth of damage to the church's retaining wall and statuary.

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