The collision Saturday was caught on Reeves’s camera, and the startling footage of an SUV barreling toward the podcast recording went viral on social media. Reeves, who is also a photographer, said he’s found a silver lining in the public response to his almost deadly experience.
“It’s pretty rare that I get some crazy exposure,” he joked in an interview. “I’ve always felt like the algorithm was working against me, but I guess it just wasn’t as exciting as getting hit by a car.”
Reeves, a 20-year-old Houston native, grew up wanting to make videos. In February, he started a video podcast series spotlighting young artists around the Houston area. For his fifth episode, he arranged an interview with Reyes, a 22-year-old fellow photographer, and searched for a recording location that would give the pair a nice backdrop to film in front of. He chose the Tout Suite cafe in downtown Houston and grabbed a table by the shop’s tall, street-facing windows.
“I could film there and get some traffic in the background that would hopefully, cinematically look cool with the way I had it framed,” Reeves said. “I guess I just really framed it up a little too nice.”
Reeves and Reyes spoke for around an hour about photography and social media. They were about to end the video when the SUV swerved into view — perfectly centered in Reyes’s camera shot and framed by the window panes behind him — and skidded through an uncontrolled turn. Reeves and Reyes, facing away from the street, were oblivious as the vehicle approached. It plowed into the window behind them.
“I felt like I was in shock,” Reyes said. “… I just turn and see a car on me.”
The driver of the black SUV was ticketed for running a red light, a Houston police spokesperson said. No injuries were reported.
Reeves and Reyes realized they caught the entire incident on camera and watched it that evening. Reeves’s video shows the SUV speed through an intersection and appear to collide with a white vehicle that had a green light, throwing it into the uncontrolled swerve.
It felt so surreal, Reyes could only laugh. They clipped the footage and uploaded it to their social media accounts. The views quickly followed. Reeves said that by Wednesday, he’d gained hundreds of new subscribers on YouTube.
“People love to see fail compilations, they love to see car crash compilations,” Reeves said. “… I’m pretty sure this is the first time a car has crashed into a podcast set. So I definitely think it being the first one, and just how crazy it was for all of this to line up, definitely warrants the response it’s getting.”
Elyssa Villa, the driver of the white SUV that the black one hit, also took to social media after the crash. The collision totaled her car, she told The Washington Post. Worse still, it was her first experience being in a car wreck — and though police assured her she wasn’t at fault, it was playing all over the internet, which she lamented in a TikTok video.
“I was shocked,” said Villa, 21. “I was like, wow, what are the odds for them to be recording and be able to capture that whole incident?”
Reeves, Reyes and Villa are all still grappling with what happened. Though none of them was seriously injured, Villa worries she’s aggravated a back injury and has started a fundraiser to help her buy a new car. Reeves and Reyes are shaken, but they’ve been checking in with each other ever since. They both said they’re trying to find a positive takeaway from the experience. It’s at least given them something new to talk about.
“At the end of the day, I got a clip that’s one in a billion,” Reeves said. “And I hope that people, you know, also watch and just don’t run red lights.”
Reeves and Reyes are planning a follow-up episode. They’ll meet up on Saturday, they said, to record another podcast reflecting on the experience. They invited Villa, who agreed to join. She’s never been on a podcast before, but she said she’s looking forward to telling her side of the story — especially because some commenters on TikTok mistakenly blamed her for the crash.
“I’m trying something out of my comfort zone,” Villa said. “In my eyes, it’s for a good type of cause. All three of us were in an accident. So at least [we can] make light of it.”
Reeves hasn’t picked a location to record the next podcast yet, he said, but he’s hoping for a calmer setting.
“Hopefully in the middle of a field,” he said. “Somewhere far away from cars, trains or any other thing that could possibly hit us.”