When Debbie and John Hooper took their Camaro ZL1 to a Georgetown car dealer, they were expecting a minor paint job.
What they got is a nightmare.
“Instead of a newly painted car, we ended up looking at it in a lot of pieces,” Debbie Hooper said.
Hooper said she understood her car was ready for pick-up Dec. 13, but she and her husband were busy and planned to get their car after the weekend.
On Dec. 16, she said, the dealership called to tell them an employee had taken the Camaro out for spin Dec. 15 and crashed it on Zoar Road near Georgetown.
“He went out for a joyride and crashed the car,” Hooper said.
Delaware State Police charged Eric Peterson, 42, of Georgetown with careless driving and failure to have insurance identification in possession. First State Chevrolet owner Bob Hansen said Peterson no longer works at the dealership.
“I've never had anything like this happen before,” he said.
Now, Hooper said she's worried that the 2012 Camaro ZL1 that she and her husband paid $60,000 for – and had only 10,000 miles on – will be totaled by insurance adjusters, and the couple will not receive the full value of what they paid for the vehicle.
“It was an extremely fast car and more expensive than most Camaros because of limited production,” Hooper said.
Hansen said the car was locked inside the car dealership, and Peterson took it out without permission.
Hooper said she heard the employee told management he needed to get into the shop to get a phone charger, but Hooper said she does not believe there was ever any phone charger.
“I think when you drop the car to have work done to it, the dealer has a responsibility to take care of it,” she said.
Hansen said he did not know anything about a phone charger, but his main concern is taking care of the Hoopers.
“Our No. 1 concern is with our customers, the Hoopers,” he said.
Delaware State Police Cpl. John Day said police continue to investigate the accident. He did not have further details on events leading up to the accident. Criminal charges have not been filed, he said.
Following the accident, Hooper said, she was told the employee told police that he had permission to drive the Camaro. She said the officer gave the employee a citation for reckless driving and no proof of insurance.
“When the guy couldn't produce registration or insurance, the cop didn't question it,” she said.
Now, the Long Neck couple feel they are out a car, $60,000 and are at the mercy of the insurance adjusters who recently determined the car was totaled.
She said the adjuster and his boss both looked at the vehicle and said they are not going to repair it.
“It has been deemed a total loss,” she said. “We're the innocent party, and we're really being hung out to dry.”