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Car Rolls Into Mormon Chapel

The Chapel at the Joseph Smith Memorial in Royalton was damaged by a car that rolled over a bank Thursday and ruptured the side of the building. No one was in vehicle at the time and there were no reported injuries. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)

The Chapel at the Joseph Smith Memorial in Royalton was damaged by a car that rolled over a bank Thursday and ruptured the side of the building. No one was in vehicle at the time and there were no reported injuries. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

South Royalton — A parked car rolled into the chapel at the Joseph Smith historical site early Thursday evening after its emergency brake apparently failed, according to Vermont State Police.

Police said the 1997 Nissan Pathfinder was not occupied when it rolled down a embankment where it had been parked and struck the side of the chapel, causing a “fair amount of damage” to the side of an entrance area into the chapel.

Woodstock resident Emily Burkholder, the owner of the car, told police that she had been having trouble with the emergency brake and that the car must have slipped into gear, police said. Burkholder could not be reached for comment yesterday.

No one was injured during the accident, which was reported shortly before 7 p.m. Thursday. The car, which had minor front end damage, was removed without the assistance of equipment.

The chapel is home to the Church of the Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and sits on land near the birthplace of Smith, the first latter-day prophet and president of the church. During a bright sunny day at the chapel yesterday, a faint path of tire tracks was visible in the grass leading into the ruptured exterior of the chapel, where a window was broken and some wooden siding was destroyed. The majority of the building remained unscathed, and most of the site was deserted, save for a few workers with a landscaping crew.

There was no word on cost of damage. A volunteer at the nearby visitor’s center provided a reporter with a tour of the premises, but deferred comment on the accident to church officials, who did not return a phone call yesterday afternoon. Another volunteer said that he expected the building would remain open during scheduled times as usual.