Dorethea Williams is hoping the black cloud over her head will somehow soon turn to gold.

Her 2-year-old great-grandson was killed in Montgomery County, Md., last month and the boy’s father has since been arrested in connection with his death.

Then, about a week and a half ago, an out-of-control sport utility vehicle hit the porch of her home and knocked it off its foundation, forcing her and her 86-year-old father to leave.

“She’s been going through a lot of turmoil,” said the Rev. Eric Brooks, pastor of Ebenezer Church of God, where Williams is a member.

The congregation has reached out to the 69-year-old Williams during this most recent trauma and has given her and her father enough money to stay in a hotel while she arranges to have their home at 812 S. Jefferson St. repaired.

But when and if that will be possible is anyone’s guess, and where they will live until then remains another unanswered question.



THE ACCIDENT

On Jan. 24, Joseph Sanchez, 69, crashed into Williams’ porch in his red Pontiac Torrent sport utility vehicle.

A gas leak that sprung from the house and fuel leaking from Sanchez’s vehicle prompted emergency officials to have her gas line and other utilities shut off, lest one spark ignite it all.

She and her next-door neighbors, whose duplex also was damaged, were forced to leave. Sanchez’s vehicle also caused damage to a car owned by Todd Williams that had been parked in front of the Williams house.

Williams — with the help of the American Red Cross, Brooks and the congregation of Ebenezer Church — has been staying with her father at the Comfort Inn in Shenango Township, awaiting information about whether the driver’s insurance company will pay for her damage.

When the vehicle struck around 8:30 a.m., they were lucky enough to have been in the back of the house, Williams said.

“I thought it was the roof caving in. When I got to the front door, there was an SUV all the way up to the door.

“It made a gaping hole, and standing on the sidewalk you could look all the way into the basement,” she said. She could see her clothesline in the backyard through the cellar, she added.

“Police and firemen and everybody were trying to help. They tried to find the leaking gas line and they said to get out,” Williams recalled.

Sanchez was hospitalized after the accident, but no information about his condition has been available since then. A police report attributed the cause of the accident to a medical condition.



HELPING HANDS

The Red Cross paid for the initial three-night stay at the Comfort Inn for Williams and her father.

She went to church the day after the accident, and Brooks took up an offering for her. The congregation gave $500, which she is using to stay longer at the hotel.

Williams wanted to contact the driver’s insurance company, but it wasn’t until Thursday that she learned his name and insurance company, when a police report became available. She said she is meeting with an adjuster today.

“I didn’t have any money,” she said, adding, “I have a beautiful church. All of the members have invited me to stay with them, but I’m used to being on my own and I’d rather stay (at the motel) with my dad. He’s doing OK.”

“She’s a member of the church and that’s what we do,” Brooks said. “When people of our church have problems or disasters, we have a fund to take care of that.”



EARLIER TRAUMA

The blow to her home came on the heels of tragedy that struck her family in Gaithersburg, Md., when her 2-year-old great-grandson, Zjaire Williams, was beaten to death Jan. 14. His father, Darryl E. Powell, with whom the boy was visiting overnight, is charged with first-degree murder and is now in jail.

The news came as a shock, and Williams and family members from Farrell braved the weather to travel to Maryland for the tot’s funeral.

She returned with cherished pictures of Zjaire — her only tangible memories — that had been printed in the funeral bulletin.

Williams had left her father at home with her sister, and was grateful the damage to her home did not happen while she was gone.

She feels for her granddaughter, 17-year-old Todzja Williams, of Damascus, Md., who is the baby’s mother.

“When they have that trial it’s really going to be hard for her,” she said.

Williams has lived on South Jefferson Street all her life, born in a house there that has since been torn down. She’s lived in her current home since 1994.

However, it is unfit to live in now, according to city code enforcement foreman Anthony Cioffi. When the vehicle hit it, it knocked the gas meter off, cracked the gas line and left a 9-by-12-foot hole in the house, he said.

The house was boarded up and secured, Cioffi noted.

Williams has paid for her hotel through Thursday.

“Then, I don’t know,” she said.

“Yesterday morning I went to church to prayer and my pastor asked me how it’s coming along. God has been so good to me, as have my pastor and all the church members.”

“That’s part of our mission,” Brooks said. “There are a lot of people who need help all around the world, but I’m a firm believer that charity begins at home and then spreads abroad.

“Our congregation feels we should help our own as much as possible, and that’s the principle on which I try to run my church.”

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