Habitat home to be built on fatal crash site

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The site of a tragic crash will soon become a symbol of hope.

In April 2012, 57-year-old Barbara Knapp was sleeping on the couch in her living room, safe inside her own home. But, around 1:30 a.m., 23-year-old Erica McCaffrey sped down Corby Boulevard and crashed into the home, killing Knapp.

“When it’s sudden like that, it just doesn’t seem real for a long time,” said Knapp’s daughter Melissa Shea.

The car hit with so much force, the home was knocked off its foundation. And, the foundation of Knapp’s family was unfairly destroyed.

“We still obviously miss our mom,” said Knapp’s son Matt Szymanski. “We still think about her constantly.”

It’s a loss Knapp’s children will never get over. But, what’s happening to the corner where their mother was killed may help them move on.

In the coming months, a new home will sprout up on the now empty lot. It’s part of a Habitat for Humanity Women Build.

“From the beginning, when we knew where we were building, we knew that it would be special,” said Women Build Chair Jane Pitz.

A hard-working mother and her two young sons will move in once the home is complete, excited for the opportunity.

“This woman Antoinette Anderson and her sons for whom we’re building will have a house and wonderful, wonderful place,” Pitz said. And, at the same time, the only reason that we will be building there is because a tragedy took place, so it’s one of those great ironies in life.”

It’s a bittersweet transition for Knapp’s children because the empty lot is where they go to visit their mom.

“It was a mixed reaction,” Szymanski says of the build. “I didn’t know what to think of it at first.”

But, Knapp was a generous soul whose life revolved around family. So, helping another mother build a new life is exactly what she would want.

“I know she’s smiling,” Shea said. “She loved to give. She would give you anything that she could. So, for that to go to a good cause would make her happy.”

Volunteers will start building in August. Anderson will also have to put in 300 hours of sweat equity as part of the deal with Habitat.

Knapp’s children also plan to be involved and will spend a day building with family and friends. They see it as a great opportunity to honor their mother.

McCaffery was ordered to serve 12 years behind bars for causing Knapp’s death while driving with marijuana in her system.

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