1-year-old girl released from hospital after car goes through Mentor house

Dad speaks publicly for the first time

MENTOR, Ohio - The 1-year-old girl, who was seriously hurt when a car went crashing through her family's house in Mentor, has been released from the hospital. Meanwhile, her father is speaking publicly for the first time about that horrifying night.

"I saw his lights coming towards the house," Christopher Lukasiewicz said from his hospital bed at MetroHealth Medical Center. "As soon as I saw it I tried to grab my son and that's when it sounded like a bomb going off."

Just before 3 a.m. Sunday, a Mercury Grand Marquis was speeding down Iroquois Trail and went through the T-intersection, hitting the house on Comanche Trail, Mentor police said.

"My son's underneath this car and so is my fiancé," 30-year-old Tonya Blare told a 911 dispatcher. "I can't hear my son anymore. My fiancé was screaming. I went next door to call and I'm badly bruised myself."

Their daughter, Cassie, was discharged from Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital on Tuesday.

"I'm worried about my son. I think he's underneath the car," Blare said during the 911 call.

Emergency crews had to remove 3-year-old Christopher from the debris and he was taken to the hospital by medical helicopter. On Tuesday, hospital officials said he was out of the pediatric intensive care unit.

However, his father told NewsChannel5 that almost every bone in his son's face is broken and he could lose his left eye.

"I felt like I failed as a father," he said, "because I couldn't even save my son or my daughter. But they told me if it wasn't for me, my son would be dead."

The boy was pinned under his father, which protected him from the car.

Christopher, Sr., whose arm is fractured in five different places, faces a second surgery Wednesday. He expects to be in the hospital at  least two to three weeks.

"The only thing I really want for Christmas is to be with my family," he said.

The driver of the car, Daniel A. Vanderhoof Jr., 28, was arrested, and charged with four counts of aggravated vehicular assault, operating a vehicle while intoxicated and driving without a license, among other charges.

"I just hope they put this guy away for good so he doesn't destroy any other families like he's destroyed mine," Lukasiewicz said.

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