Car crashes into UC Berkeley dorm, students evacuated

Derek Remsburg/Senior Staff

Derek Remsburg/Senior Staff

Derek Remsburg/Senior Staff

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A car crashed into a UC Berkeley dormitory building early Wednesday morning, rupturing a natural gas pipe in the building and forcing about 250 students to evacuate.

At around 3 a.m. Wednesday, the car hit the southeast corner of Putnam Hall, an eight-story residence hall at Unit 1 located near the corner of Channing Way and College Avenue, according to Marty Takimoto, director of marketing communications for campus Residential and Student Service Programs. No injuries were reported.

The collision set off the building’s fire alarm, and the building’s entire resident population of more than 250 students was evacuated, Takimoto said.

“There were a lot of people crowding around,” said UC Berkeley freshman Sharon Scarlat, who witnessed the crash. “About three minutes later, the smell of gas was evident, then a few minutes later the police came and started telling people to leave because of the gas.”

Because the incident affected the outlet side of the meter, which the property owner is responsible for, PG&E is only able to repair the gas service once a licensed plumber properly inspects the damage to the pipe, according to PG&E spokesperson Tamar Sarkissian.

Students were let back into the building by 4:30 a.m. but were expected to be without hot water or heat for the majority of the day.

“We’re doing an analysis of when everything will be fixed,” Takimoto said. “We’re hoping everything will be fixed by the time it gets dark.”

The campus has made arrangements for these students to use bathroom and shower facilities at other residence hall buildings in Unit 1, Takimoto said.

According to UCPD Operations Division Capt. Stephen Roderick, the suspect has been identified as 22-year-old UC Berkeley student Douglas Perez. Perez was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving.

Amruta Trivedi is the assistant university news editor.

Correction(s):
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that about 400 students were evacuated. Though officials originally estimated that 400 students had to leave the building, in fact about 250 students were evacuated. Also, a previous version of this article incorrectly stated that 25 students were forced to evacuate the building. In fact it was about 250.