Susan C. Anthony

Car Demolished by Unmanned Vehicle

The smashed SubaruMy 1984 Christmas newspaper recounted one of the strangest series of events I've ever experienced.

December 8, 1983

A beige 1977 Subaru station wagon, owned by Susan Anthony, was repeatedly bashed and knocked 45' across a median by an unmanned Eagle in the back parking lot of Chinook Elementary School. The Eagle, owned by a PTA Executive Board member, had been parked across from Anthony's car and left idling in neutral. An 11-year-old girl waiting in the car presumably knocked the Eagle into reverse. It took off at a high speed in a tight circle, crashing into the Subaru's door, then circling around and around, hitting it again and again. The Subaru bounced against another car and caused $1500 damage to it.

The child jumped out of the car and raced inside to get help. The owner of the runaway vehicle panicked when she saw the situation and ran to try to stop her car. It was going too fast for her to get in the open door. She was knocked down and her legs were run over. Not seriously hurt, she got up to try again. Finally, after several attempts, she wedged her foot under a tire and brought the car to a stop.

Although the Subaru still ran, body damage was estimated at $3000.

The Eagle sustained slight damage to the rear bumper and a broken tail light.

One onlooker commented, "I guess it really is true that American cars are superior."

Another, musing, suggested that the Eagle may have mistaken Anthony's car for a Rabbit.

Freak Accident Just the Beginning. . .

  • December 9 —Body damage to the Subaru was estimated at $3000.
  • December 14 — Insurance company refused to pay more than $1950 for the "totaled" car.
  • December 16 — Replacement vehicle purchased for $1995, a blue 1977 Subaru station wagon with 50,000 miles.
  • January 3 — New hood ordered for replacement car, $180. (Old hood was buckled.)
  • February 16 — Fuse for headlights burned out so car was unusable on the morning of an important inservice presentation to teachers.
  • March 6 — Accelerator stuck and blue car took off. The road was black ice, with traffic and a stop sign ahead. The car crashed into a large snowbank, turned on its side, and then righted itself, perched atop 5' of snow and ice.
  • March 7 — Mechanics said the new car had no compression in one cylinder and needed a valve job.
  • April 5 — Insurance company finally released a check for $1950. A windshield wiper fell off during a heavy rain.
  • May — The new car went to a mechanic friend who agreed to replace the engine for $700. The newly installed engine had no power and backfired. The mechanic spent another 3.5 months trying to fix it, removing the engine and replacing it five times, having it computer analyzed and checked by other mechanics. No luck.
  • June 20 — Gear shift lever on totaled beige car pulled out by the roots on the evening before a planned trip to Fairbanks. The mechanic fixed it at no charge, apologizing for the long delay on the replacement car.
  • September 7 — Blue car was returned, complete with a new engine and a new hood.
  • September 8 — The hood latch came loose at 45 mph on a busy road. The new hood flew up and buckled over the top of the car, leaving the driver (me) unable to see the road, traffic, anything at all. To top it off that day, the car got a flat tire.
  • September 9 — The beige (old) car was parked in a residential neighborhood on a Saturday. Workmen arrived and unhitched their trailer without blocking the tires. The trailer rolled into the beige car, smashing the windshield. Because the car had already been "totaled", those responsible refused to pay for the damage, which left the car unusable.
  • September 19 — Brand new, 1984 Subaru 4-wheel-drive station wagon purchased, covered by a 5-year warranty and comprehensive insurance.

Hopefully NOT to be continued.  (It wasn't, thankfully.)

I haven't had significant car problems since, other than two accidents in two separate cars on the same super slippery New Years Day, 1986.

Go on to read Downhill Skiing
Source:, ©Susan C. Anthony