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Once again driving in style

A 77-year-old woman gets a new Lincoln Town Car after her old one is totaled by a car wash employee.

The end of the year was lucky for 77-year-old Dorothy Elledge and her Lincoln Town Car.

Three months ago, when the South Tampa woman went to have her late-model silver Lincoln Town Car washed and detailed at the Buccaneer Car Wash on Dale Mabry Highway near Waters Avenue, a worker totaled it.

The car had been a gift from her late husband and she wanted it repaired. But neither her insurance company, nor the carwash's, would agree to restoration.

Now, after much deliberation, she has a new white 1993 Lincoln Town Car that she is growing to love as much as her old car.

"Nothing has gone wrong from the first time I bought it," Elledge said. "It runs beautiful. It takes off just like a 747."

She said her insurance company, State Farm, paid off the car loan on her totaled 1990 Lincoln Town Car and gave her $4,000 to purchase a new one a month ago. "I went to Carmax and got this new Lincoln," Elledge said, although she still is waiting to get a refund for her insurance deductible.

The accident happened as a carwash employee driving Elledge's car hit a trash Dumpster by mistake and slid into a fence. Elledge was having coffee in the waiting room at the time.

"It was a fluke accident," said Eric Lewis, the carwash's new manager. "When they vacuumed the car they put the mat on top of the gas pedal instead of under it. That was a mishap that day and now we're aware of it and look more intensely at that problem before we move the cars to be washed."

Even though she's riding in a better, newer car, Elledge said she still misses her old one, which "had sentimental value."

_Jane Bokun