Rebuilt and ready: House of Ruth reopens after car accident damages office

House of Ruth CEO and Executive Director Pat Bell. Courier photo/Andrew Alonzo

by Andrew Alonzo |

March 28 was a joyous day for House of Ruth. The Pomona nonprofit that provides aid to victims of domestic violence welcomed the community back to its office with a ribbon cutting and open house, signaling the end of a long road to reopen after a 2023 car accident damaged nearly half the 12,000-square foot building, making a significant portion uninhabitable.

“It’s been a long eight months,” said House of Ruth CEO and Executive Director Pat Bell. “I feel just a huge sense of relief to be able to say, ‘Hey, we’re back.’”

The wild car accident occurred at 2:34 a.m. July 14, 2023, when 24-year-old Wilfredo Pineda of Los Angeles sped through the vacant lot adjacent to House of Ruth then hit a curb that sent his Tesla airborne. The car went through four walls and took out the agency’s conference room, children’s therapy room, and most of its counseling call centers before coming to a stop on the front lawn. No one was inside the facility at the time of the crash. Pineda and his passenger were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. Pomona Police arrested him for misdemeanor driving under the influence.


House of Ruth’s Pat Bell describes the damage an airborne car did to the south wall of the agency’s outreach center in 2023. Courier photo/Andrew Alonzo


Now with construction complete, Bell and staff showed off their new renewed space during the March 28 reopening ceremony.

“We’re able to have classes and support groups and all the things that we used to do,” Bell said. “Having a place to go to that feels safe and secure and supportive is important to the community because when [domestic violence] survivors reach out to us for help, it can come in many different ways. Having the physical space to be able to offer that menu of support to people is really critical, and when it was missing, it was felt.”

Bell remembers the accident as if it were yesterday, when the agency’s children’s program director, Deatria Carter, called her shortly after 2:34 a.m. to deliver the bad news.

“It looked like a bomb had gone off in the building,” Bell said. “By the time I arrived on scene at 3 a.m., the city officials were there and had already looked at it and had red tagged the building at that time.”

The facility was closed for 48 hours following the crash. With the gaping holes in the building boarded up, work began in earnest to find office space for those whose offices had been destroyed. Bell said House of Ruth then took on the challenge of continuing to offer services with just 50% of its workspace usable.


Scenes of devastation following the July 14, 2023, car accident at House of Ruth in Pomona. Photo/courtesy of Pat Bell


Many of House of Ruth’s community partners also chipped in.

La Verne retirement community Hillcrest opened its conference room to House of Ruth for its monthly board meetings, Tri-City Mental Health Services in Pomona shared a community room so the nonprofit could continue hosting classes and groups, and several nearby churches lent space.

“Everybody was really quick to help,” Bell added.

Young Women’s Christian Association chapter of San Gabriel Valley called and offered to redirect House of Ruth services to its Covina-based domestic violence service agency, WINGS, if needed. Bell said she chokes up thinking about the many that reached out to offer a hand.

“Getting those phone calls in that moment of need reinforced we do have solid relationships,” Bell said.

Also part of the long road was the beginning of insurance claims and hiring engineers to rebuild. WF Construction in La Verne was the general contractor that rebuilt the agency’s southern infrastructure. The project’s price tag came in at more than $250,000, Bell said, including construction, off-site lease agreements, property replacement, and moving expenses. The iron fence and brick walkway damaged in the accident were not covered by House of Ruth’s insurance policy, and the agency is aiming to raise $20,000 to cover the cost of those repairs.

To learn more about House of Ruth, call (909) 623-4364 or go to Those in need of domestic violence services can call House of Ruth’s 24-hour hotline at (877) 988-5559.


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