Ruptured Henrico water main versus car – who pays the bill?

Posted at 12:42 AM, Oct 02, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-02 01:21:48-04

HENRICO, Va. -- Dino Angelopoulous knew he had to have an electric blue Mazda RX-8 from the moment he first spotted one.

So imagine how he felt when a manager from the Breckenridge Apartments in western Henrico called him on Tuesday in Northern Virginia (where he was working that day) to tell him his sports car was slipping into a sinkhole caused by a ruptured water main under the apartment parking lot.

"Well, they had told me that it was in a sinkhole and the worst thing that obviously came to mind," he recalled, "the Corvette Museum had a sinkhole that several cars fell in and I kind of envisioned that."

As it turned out, it was nowhere near that bad. But as he raced home to see about his "baby," he called the county to find out what was going on.

There was a lot of "going back-and-forth," he said. "It was a lot of 'who is responsible for what?' and no one would give me a straight answer."

He was told he needed to contact his insurance company and get his car towed, Dino said.

"I even got a phone call before I got here from the county asking me when was I going to get my car towed out of the way because they were they weren't able to do any work on the water main while my car was for physically in the way."

He wondered why he had to get his insurance company involved for something that wasn't his fault.

When he arrived, the muddy picture didn't clear. He was told to get his car towed and the county would likely pay him back once they investigated what happened.

So who is responsible?

The county.

It's their water main, on their easement, a county spokeswoman told me Wednesday afternoon.

The tow bill was about $1,000 because a sling had to be rigged to ease the Mazda's rear end out of the sinkhole.

CBS-6 was told the county will definitely reimburse Dino.

But why did he have to pay up front, he wonders. What if he had been out of the country? How would the county have resumed water service to that area?

Dino wants to know why was it his insurance called out.

"It definitely would have been easier if they'd have said, 'we'll take care of it. We'll tow the car out of the spot and move it to wherever. If there's damage, we'll go from there.'"