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Firefighters free driver trapped after stolen car hits house in U-District

Emergency crews freed a driver trapped in a stolen car Monday night after it hit a natural gas line and smashed into a house in the University District. (Photo: Seattle Fire)

SEATTLE - Emergency crews freed a driver trapped in a stolen car Monday night after it hit a natural gas line and smashed into a house in the University District.

It happened around 5:00 p.m. Northeast 53rd Street and Ninth Avenue Northeast.

Detectives said it appears to have started just before 4:30 p.m. as a disturbance on a Metro bus near I-5. The man threatened the driver with a knife, state troopers told KOMO News.

Employees at an Audi dealership on 11th Avenue Northeast said the same man then came to their store. They said he stole keys to a customer's car, which was parked on the 2nd floor of a garage, and took off before they could catch him.

Justin Frei was driving down 9th Avenue Northeast several blocks away when the man sped around him.

"The vehicle just looked like it was going out of control goin' around me, you know? On a 25 mile-per-hour street going pedal to the metal," said Frei.

Moments later, police were called to the scene of the car into the home.

Police said the driver of the stolen car also hit several parked vehicles before crashing into the home, including one woman's brand new SUV.

"I watched the car bounce off of my car, onto another car, and then slam into that house. And then I kinda sat there for a minute dazed and then had someone call police," said Heather Hunter. "The wheel-well, the whole side of the car is smashed and the wheel is like turned."

When firefighters arrived, the driver was unconscious. He was taken to Harborview Medical Center with life-threatening injuries, according to Police.

No one else was hurt, but the gas leak forced several homes to be evacuated.

Firefighters and Puget Sound Energy crews were able to quickly shut off the gas. Residents have since been allowed to return home.

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