Driver veers off road into homeless encampment in South Berkeley

Nobody was injured, but the driver was taken to a hospital to get checked out, Berkeley police said.

“Here There” encampment residents clean up the items smashed by a driver who collided with a tent. Photo: Natalie Orenstein

A driver veered off Adeline Street and into a homeless encampment Tuesday afternoon, smashing solar panels and a tent. Nobody was injured, but the driver was taken to a hospital to get checked out, Berkeley police said.

The blue hatchback was headed north on Adeline around 1 p.m., when the driver “popped the curb, ran over the area where I used to sleep, hit solar panels and hit a friend of ours’ tent,” said Alex, a resident of the longstanding “Here There” encampment along the BART tracks near 63rd Street.

“We’re lucky he wasn’t home, or that debris would probably be on him now,” said Alex, gesturing to a pile of smashed glass panels and pieces of wood.

BPD Officer Joel G. del Rosario said several police vehicles responded to the incident immediately after getting the 1:06 p.m. call, fearing that the driver had hit somebody.

“I’m just glad it was an empty tent,” he said at the scene of the collision. Del Rosario said he reached the tent’s owner, who was at work, and connected him with the driver, a 67-year-old Oakland woman, according to BPD. He said the incident would be treated as a property damage case. The Berkeley Fire Department was also contacted to make sure the solar panel damage wasn’t a fire hazard.

The officer and several residents of the camp said the driver seemed “out of it” and stunned.

“I’m in shock” too, said Leslie Degan, who lives several tents down from the collision site.

When the car smashed into the solar panels, “it sounded like a bomb going off,” he said. “I don’t know what we’re going to do now. Tonight we won’t be able to charge our phones or use lights. But we’re really glad nobody was injured. That’s the most important thing.”

Alex went to drink the milk that was warming up in the solar-powered fridge.

The car that was driven into a homeless encampment gets towed. Photo: Natalie Orenstein
Natalie Orenstein reports on housing and homelessness for The Oaklandside. She was previously a reporter for Berkeleyside. Email: Twitter: nat_orenstein.