By James Raia
It’s the stuff of make-believe and fairy tales. But when Jeff Smith looked at his smashed 2012 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck and the giant spool next to it, he knew it was true. As Smith said, “hit-and-run spool, really.”
What happened defines bizarre. Smith left work in Omaha, Nebraska, one recent afternoon and discovered his truck was heavily damaged. A large wooden spool was positioned next to his Tacoma.
The wire spool didn’t belong to the Omaha Public Power District, but the utility company moved the 1,500-pound spool out of the way so Smith and Omaha police could look for identifying marks.
Smith, who works in an isolated business area, didn’t hear the crash. And while his truck was damaged, the spool was unscathed. The cost to repair the truck was estimated at $7,000. Smith had insurance but was required to pay a deductible.
The spool had been observed in a parking lot above the area where Smith’s truck was parked. Smith believes the incident occurred between noon at 5 p.m. Two days later, the spool disappeared.
“You’d need machinery and a couple of guys to move the thing, so where it came from and where it’s gone now really is a mystery,” Rod Jensen, the landlord of the property, told a reporter from local NBC television affiliate WOWT.
As it turned out, there was a legitimate reason the spool was removed, and there’s a good ending to the story.
The spool was surplus and had been left by the previous tenant of a bar and lounge. After hearing about the incident, the new owner visited Smith at his workplace. “He really felt bad that it happened, so he did write me a check to help with my deductible,” said Smith. “I think it’s above and beyond. I don’t really blame him for it, he inherited the issue.”
The new owner of the lounge said the spool was likely rolled across the parking lot and pranksters pushed it down the hill. The spool was retrieved by a friend of the bar owner who didn’t know it had been involved in an unusual hit-and-run.
James Raia, a syndicated columnist in Sacramento, California, publishes a free weekly automotive podcast and electronic newsletter. Sign-ups are available on his website, www.theweeklydriver.com. He can be reached via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.