MARINERS HARBOR, Staten Island (WABC) -- A tractor trailer smashed into several cars and careened into the front yard of three homes on Staten Island early Monday.
The driver lost control just before 6 a.m. on South Avenue in the Mariners Harbor section, while residents were sleeping inside the homes.
"I heard a roar, and my wife jumped up, I jumped up," Emerson Willis said. "I looked out the window, and all I could see was something in the yard above me...I got outside, and I looked over and saw my wall was cracked...and I saw a truck sitting against my house. The driver, the door was open and he was trying to get out."
The truck was carrying steel at the time of the crash.
All three homes sustained damage. Erick Stavrou lives in one of them.
"Things blink right before your eyes, and you're like, that could have been me, if I hadn't paid attention," he said.
Stavrou was sleeping and heard a bang, but he didn't budge until his nephew woke him up again.
"He goes, 'We've got a problem. We can't get in or out of the front of the house,'" he said. "I'm like, 'No, you're kidding.' When I got out and I saw the tractor trailer, I'm like, what happened?"
What followed was an extremely delicate operation getting the truck stabilized and removed. Officials first shut off gas and electric along the stretch of homes and drained roughly 300 gallons of diesel fuel from the tracker trailer.
It took several hours, and once the truck was gone, the path of destruction was evident.
As for the man behind the wheel, the 54-year-old driver was taken to Richmond University Medical Center. Officials believe the accident may have been caused by a dropped cigarette in the cab of the vehicle, but the investigation is ongoing.
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Tractor-trailer smashes into 3 homes, cars on Staten Island