West Omaha family deals with headache after alleged drunk driver rams into home

Crash investigation determines driver had been speeding on 180th Avenue
A West Omaha family is worried after their home was rammed into by an alleged drunk driver.
Published: Mar. 20, 2023 at 10:23 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 21, 2023 at 1:11 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A smashed-through door and wall isn’t how Ross Budweg dreamed of coming home to find a 2022 Tesla in his garage.

“We can’t just reframe it,” Budweg said. “We have to actually tear out some of this concrete and redo it because of how fast he hit the wall.”

Luckily, Ross, his wife, and two young children had been away around 8:30 Friday night, which saved the family’s two vehicles from joining the damage report.

“He came through here, hit this pole, kept going, tearing up the yard and then tore up the driveway and hit the garage,” Budweg said.

Neighbor Ron Miltenberger says traffic and speeds have increased on the widened 180th Street.

“The traffic since this opened has really flowed fast, and you gotta watch it at the light,” he said.

The driver who crashed into the Budwegs’ home was cited for alleged drunk driving and provided proof of insurance, but Ross was left wondering whether he needed more than repairs. But following a crash investigation, the city told 6 News on Tuesday that a study won’t be conducted on whether a guardrail is needed on 180th Avenue near the home.

The homeowner had been hoping for some assistance protecting his property. Because of the design of 180th Avenue — there’s a slight curve — and anyone losing control would head right toward his house. Small trees, a beam, and a light pole didn’t stop the out-of-control car from smashing into his home.

“It’s definitely a wake-up call and illustrates the need for a barrier to be in place,” Budweg said.

But the crash investigation determined that the driver of the Tesla lost control while speeding on 180th Avenue — a residential street that runs parallel to the busier street and separated by a berm, so no study will be conducted.

Ross had been considering adding a boulder barrier.

“If they came across here, they’d stop and hit a boulder instead of proceeding onto our property,” he said.

“Any homeowner can put things on their own property,” Pfitzer said. “What they can’t do is they can’t have somebody bring in boulders and put it right behind the curb.”

While the investigation was underway, engineers warned not to categorize the slight curve on 180th Avenue as dangerous based on one drunk driving crash.

But after seeing the damage caused by a Tesla smashing into his garage, Ross Budweg is plugged into a plan for a hard-rock barrier to protect his property. Even after the crash investigation revealed that speed was a contributing factor, he told 6 News that he’s still concerned about traffic on 180th Avenue and will continue to ask for a barrier of some sort.

Rowser tells 6 News there are already several safety features on 180th Avenue to protect adjacent homes if a driver loses control. A berm, and trees when they grow larger, should prevent a similar crash. The county engineer told 6 News that installing a guardrail without study could leave taxpayers vulnerable to a lawsuit if a driver hits it and is hurt.