Christine Haught and her husband were waiting to pick up their dinner order from Golden Chopsticks in Shamokin Dam, Pennsylvania, March 4 when they were nearly killed.
As they sat in their van outside the restaurant, waiting, they played a game on their phone and wondered when the food would be ready. It was just before 6 p.m. when Haught, 51, heard a strange sound.
The sound of squealing tires split the air. Immediately following, the back of their van was hit and the entire vehicle was shoved against the restaurant.
Miraculously, Haught was able to get out of the mangled car with “not even a scratch,” but she saw flames leaping up from their totaled car.
“All I can remember is seeing flames from his side of the van,” she said, according to PennLive. “I was hysterical. I screamed. I had to get him out. I tried to help him out but he kept saying to go.”
She ran into the restaurant and told everyone to get out because there was a fire. Thankfully, a woman ran out armed with a fire extinguisher and doused the flames on the burning van.
“She’s my guardian angel,” Haught said. “She put out the fire.”
Haught was fine, but her 47-year-old husband, already suffering from a previous disability, was critically injured. He was rushed to Geisinger Medical Center with a broken back, broken shoulder blade and broken ribs as well as a brain bleed.
On Wednesday, he was moved to rehab and is expected to recover.
As for the woman who ran into them, she left a trail of destruction in her wake that culminated in the wreck at the restaurant and ended with her SUV perched on the roof of the restaurant.
The driver was later identified as 43-year-old Theresa Risso of Selinsgrove. Shamokin Dam Police Chief Tim Bremigen also later confirmed that alcohol was involved at a high level, though he would not give specifics beyond that.
Shortly before she plowed into the back of the van, reports of a reckless driver had started to come in. According to The Daily Item, Officer Eric Hassenplug was investigating and began to see the path she’d left behind her, a quarter of a mile along the southbound lanes of Routes 11 – 15 littered with telltale debris.
Risso had struck at least two other cars, hit a pole, smashed into a concrete barrier and even lost a tire before coming to a stop. She hit Haught’s van so hard that the engine flew out of her own car and the body of her car flipped up onto the roof of the restaurant.
In the car along with Risso was her 1-year-old daughter. Thankfully Risso had managed to secure her baby properly in her car seat before taking off on her rampage. Despite all the havoc she caused that evening, her daughter was uninjured, according to Bremigen.
Risso herself was taken to the hospital in critical condition, but was discharged Tuesday. Criminal charges are expected but have not yet been filed.
Other people were also reported injured, but are doing well. The restaurant has been condemned after suffering catastrophic damage.
Fundraisers are being held for Haught, who currently has no means of transportation and works two jobs. Her husband is unable to work due to his prior disability.