A D.C. woman left town because of a family emergency — only to learn that the city towed and then destroyed her Jeep.
When you park your car in a legal spot, you expect it to be there when you get back. That’s what Susan Hekhuis thought when she parked on Calvert Street NW with her residential parking permit.
“I know every inch of that street, of what is a legal parking place and what is not,” she said.
But what began as a normal situation became a nightmare.
Hekhuis left her 1999 Jeep parked on the street at the end of February and left town to care for her elderly mother, who broke her leg.
A few weeks ago, she sent a friend to check on her vehicle. But it wasn’t there.
Hekhuis logged on to the Department of Motor Vehicles’ website and found that her Jeep had been towed to Connecticut Avenue.
The D.C. Department of Public Works told News4 they towed the Jeep because of the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon. The problem is, parking isn’t allowed on Connecticut Avenue during rush hour. The Jeep racked up five tickets over about two weeks.
“That is the part that is the most frustrating, that they towed it to a spot where it had to be towed from,” Hekhuis said.
That’s when the Jeep was towed again, to an impound lot in Blue Plains. Hekhuis sent her friend to go pick it up. The employees had bad news.
“I said, ‘Where is it?’ and they said, ‘Ma’am, it doesn’t exist any more. We destroyed it,’” Hekhuis recalled.
The DPW website says that “impounded vehicles that remain unclaimed after 28 days following notification are sold at public auction online or scrapped.”
DPW told News4 they sent a letter to Hekhuis’ home. But she didn’t get it because she was out of town.
DPW also said they waited over six weeks before destroying the Jeep.
Hekhuis said she wishes they had called or emailed her first.
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“There I am trying to take care of my mom and do my job and take care of a million other things, and the last thing on my mind was that you towed my car and destroyed it,” she said.
With car prices being so high these days, Hekhuis said she’s not sure if she can afford to buy another. She had recently paid $600 to renew her vehicle registration, not realizing the Jeep had already been destroyed.
“It’s so frustrating. Words fail me on this,” she said. “I just found a regular parking place on Calvert Street.”