At approximately 7:15 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 20, a driver crashed his car into the front of Horky House on the Centre College campus. Local law enforcement officials responded quickly to a 9-1-1 call and were on the scene almost immediately. Upon arriving, they found that the driver did not survive the crash.
Only one Centre employee was in Horky House at the time, in an office at the rear of the building, and she was completely safe. No one else was nearby or ever in any danger.
Details of the accident remain unknown and await the outcome of an autopsy report. Danville Police intend to recreate the incident and conduct a full investigation.
Located at the corner of West Main Street and Maple Avenue, and known first as the Russel-Thomas House when it was completed in 1850, it was one of several structures built by Robert Russel, Jr., who also built the College’s first building, Old Centre, completed in 1820. They are two of the 15 campus buildings placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the U.S. Dept. of Interior.
The building was later purchased by Centre and in 1992, after extensive renovations, was rededicated in memory of John H. and Lorette Bell Horky. It currently houses finance and human resources staff, in addition to the College switchboard operator. Before that, it was home to Centre’s admission and financial aid staff.
Centre president and first lady John and Susie Roush, who live across the street in another Russell-built home known as Craik House, were among the first on the scene. Both extended their thoughts and prayers for the driver and his family, and also expressed gratitude that no one else was involved or injured.
Besides damage to the southeast area of Horky House, where the car drove through a thick brick wall and ended up in an office, there was additional damage to a second floor office. Apparently after striking a tree in front of the building, a wheel was sheered off the vehicle and bounced up and through a second floor window. A ball bearing also pierced a window in front of Horky House on the main level and left grease marks on the interior wall.
After the local fire department removed the vehicle, within 90 minutes after the accident, efforts were quickly made to fortify the damaged area. Shortly after, a crew was onsite to begin clearing away debris.
While at the mercy of weather, Wayne King, Centre’s director of facilities management, hopes that his team and that of a local contractor can restore the damage within one to two months. Only the damaged office and a conference room directly above will remain off limits during renovation. All other spaces will be ready for staff to return to work on Tuesday, Feb. 21.
by Michael Strysick
February 20, 2017
UPDATE on Feb. 21: The Boyle County coroner identified the victim as Ricky Baker, 47, of Perryville, Ky.