Driver takes off after crashing vehicle into Opa-locka church, police say

Crash caused about $5,000 in damages

OPA-LOCKA, Fla. – A vehicle crashed into a church early Monday in Opa-locka, authorities said.

The crash occurred just before 3 a.m. at the Seventh-day Adventist Spanish Church on Burlington Street and Opa-locka Boulevard.

Police said officers arrived to find the driver had left.

"An officer stayed to secure the location and made contact with church membership, and they sent someone to board the building up," Opa-locka police Chief James Dobson said. 

A large hole in the side of the church building is now boarded up. A deacon from the church told Local 10 News they are not sure how they will pay for the damages.

"Thank God we had no sermon today, because if we had sermon, it could've been another tragedy," Mario Rivera Jr. said. 

Despite the incident, they are grateful no one was inside or injured. But with little evidence left from the accident, police and church members are asking for the driver to come forward.

"We are estimating about $5,000 worth of damages," Dobson said. "This is the holidays and we want to make sure that if someone did this, they are held accountable for their actions."

Police said the driver, Lilian Perez, 55, was found later in the morning after a tip came in by someone who came upon a Ford Explorer with extensive rear-end damage.

Police said Perez confessed to being involved in the crash and said that she was sorry.

Authorities said she faces a charge of leaving the scene of a crash. Detectives believe alcohol might have been a factor in the crash, but that remains under investigation.