Driver crashes brand new, $33,000 sports car

Gone in 60 seconds?

Posted: Sunday, December 10, 2000

It was a vision on the showroom floor: a sleek, black, dream machine, the first 2001 Pontiac Trans Am Firehawk at the Hutchings' dealership in Soldotna.

But it didn't get far.

Thursday, the car's buyer picked it up from the detailer on Marydale, headed for the Glacier dealership on the Kenai Spur Highway to finish the transaction, slid off the road and smashed the sports car. The driver was uninjured.

"It was two-and-a-half miles. He made it roughly half way," said Shawn Hutchings, general manager at the GMC dealership.

"The customer bought the car. He was just bringing it over to complete the financing when it got wrecked."

Hutchings estimated the car's value at $33,000. The troopers estimated it at $35,000.

The Trans Am was towed to Hutchings' body shop, where an adjuster will examine it, and the insurance carrier will decide its fate.

"It would surprise me if it wasn't totaled," Hutchings said.

Because the sales documents had not been completed, the vehicle still belonged to the dealership.

"It is covered under our insurance. There is no question there," he said.

The utility pole the car struck also sustained significant damage, causing an electrical power outage and crashing GCI's phone service for an hour.

"Service was disrupted for an hour in the entire system," "We are still gathering information on what the total cost will be," said Sharrie Satathite, manager of GCI's Soldotna office. "It was a bad place to hit. It took out power to our head-end facility, which distributes signals to our entire system."

Lights blinked throughout the Kenai-Soldotna area, and about 800 people from Beaver Creek in Kenai to Knight Drive in Soldotna were without electricity for an hour, according to a press release from Homer Electric Association.

Friday, HEA and GCI were working on the pole and collecting information on the costs of the damage.

The sports car's driver, 20-year-old Richard Gregoire of Homer, admitted going more than 75 miles per hour in the 45-mile-per-hour zone.

Witnesses described his speed as "extremely high," according to the Alaska State Troopers' report on the incident.

The accident was reported at 12:41 p.m. Thursday. Gregoire was wearing his seat belt and sustained only a bump on the head. Medics from Central Emergency Services responded, examined and released him.

Troopers cited him for reckless driving.

Hutchings said Gregoire had expressed interest in ordering a replacement for the car.

Efforts to contact Gregoire were unsuccessful.

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