Posted on March 13, 2013 at 5:40 PM
Wednesday, Mar 13 at 5:42 PM
AUSTIN -- Police are investigating an accident which damaged more than a dozen vehicles at a Hyundai auto dealership.
Officer Traver Stefan says a 911 call came in around 1:38 a.m. Wednesday. A witness reported seeing a driver lose control of his car on the Interstate 35 frontage road.
The car veered off the road and onto a grassy curb where it hit a light pole outside South Point Hyundai. The impact tore the light pole from its concrete base. The car then smashed into a row of vehicles at the dealership. Shards of glass and chunks of plastic and metal scattered across the lot.
Service and Parts Director Mark Marek of South Point Hyundai says 18 cars suffered damage. Nine were damaged severely.
“It’s pretty extensive. Several of the vehicles are brand new vehicles that are more than likely totaled. It rolled right across the top of them,” explained Officer Stefan.
"Some of the roofs are torn off. Other cars have battery acid on them. Some of the front ends are smashed in. So some of the damage are quite severe and some are just minor scratches," added Marek.
One car was flipped on its side and landed upside down on top of another. Another vehicle nearly lost one of its doors when the light pole landed on top of it before skidding to a stop.
Witnesses told officers they watched the driver crawl out of his car and then run off. Police are still searching for him.
“As far as the extent of their injuries, we're not sure. I guess they were able somehow, they were seen running from the scene. So they were at least, had it together enough to run out of here,” said Officer Stefan.
The cause of the crash remains under investigation. Officers who responded to the call say they found empty beer bottles still inside the car and more bottles on the ground around the car. The driver is facing several potential charges.
“Leaving the scene of [a] crash would certainly be a potential charge. It just depends on the tools detectives want to use to charge him with, again if it's assigned to a detective unit and of course there's the civil court route that the owners of the property are certainly entitled to,” explained Officer Stefan.
The damaged vehicles are being towed to the dealership's sister facility, Point Collision, on Saint Elmo for evaluation.
"There will be a determination there as to what can be done with the cars, either fixed, some of them will probably be totaled," said Marek.
This isn't the first time an incident like this has happened to the dealerships that line I-35. The Mazda dealership right next to Hyundai South Point had three similar incidents. And Marek says a year and a half ago, a driver ran into the pre-owned side of the lot.
"Less cars were involved, but it always gives you pause for thought. The feeder road does seem to be a dangerous thoroughfare," added Marek.
Despite the danger, managers at both dealerships said putting up a wall or barrier could be even more dangerous, causing drivers to run into other people instead of replaceable cars.
So they'll just keep their fingers crossed, insurance policies up to date and try to look at the bright side.
"Crazy things happen in the car business. It's one of the things that keep my job exciting and entertaining. Everyday is different and you never know what you're gonna get," said Marek. "They say any press is good press and we're just happy to be here in the Austin market selling great cars to great people."
Managers at Hyundai South Point are still calculating the total amount of damage but said each of the cars was worth about $30,000.