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Driver slams into expensive sculptures

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Janet Faulkner was having a typical workday last Friday at Right at Home when she heard what she describes as a "huge noise."

A driver apparently veered off Bonanza Drive and slammed into two towering copper and steel sculptures that were on display on the grounds outside the Bonanza Drive store.

The pieces, valued at a combined $7,000, were forced off their mounts and collapsed to the snow below. The driver left and the Park City Police Department is seeking the person.

"There was bumper from the car," Faulkner says about the aftermath. "There were bits and pieces from the car everywhere."

The sculptures belong to the Iron Horse Gallery, which is nearby and displays them outside Right At Home with the permission of the property owner in an effort to make the shopping area, sometimes called the North of Main district, more attractive.

Officers were summoned to the scene at a little after 4 p.m. but the Police Department says it has not identified a suspect.

According to Rick Ryan, a Police Department lieutenant, customers watched as what is described as, possibly, a blue-colored Subaru struck the sculptures. Ryan says the police have not determined what model the car is, though.

Ryan says the driver was on Bonanza Drive, ran off the road, drove across a grassy area outside the gallery and hit the two sculptures. Witnesses told the police the driver turned the car around and left, heading south on Bonanza Drive, the direction toward Old Town.

He says the police recovered pieces of the car, including a broken light cover, but the authorities remain stumped as they seek a suspect. Ryan says the vehicle likely suffered extensive damage to the front and, potentially, the hood. People with information about the suspect may call the Police Department at 615-5500.

Joyce Plowman, who owns the gallery and stocks about 50 pieces by the same artist, sculptor Lyman Whitaker, who is from Southern Utah, says they have been displayed outside the gallery for three years, the entire time the gallery has been open. The pieces that were struck stood 14 and 16 feet tall.

Plowman says the pieces are insured but she had not decided by the beginning of the week whether she would file a claim. She expects finding the suspect will be difficult but she surmises the person lives locally.

"Whoever it is, I’m sure they parked their car," she says, insinuating that the person is trying to hide the evidence.

Plowman says it is fortunate nobody was in the vehicle’s path and nobody was injured. She says the sculptures have not been vandalized in the past and says the driver probably was not trying to hit them.

"The car had to hit with a lot of force — couldn’t have only been going the speed limit," she says. "He had to have totally lost control of his car. It’s only a guess why he sped off."

The accident occurred near the Bonanza Drive crossing at the Rail Trail, where many people say pedestrians and bicyclists are endangered from drivers who are speeding or are distracted. Bonanza Drive is the key artery between Old Town and Prospector and commuters, visitors and skiers on their way to the city’s resorts heavily use the road.

The street was the site of a tragic drunken-driving accident in 2003, when a Park City man crossed the median, drove through the other lane and struck Ana Bussmann, a 23-year-old Brazilian spending the winter in Park City. She was left with terrible injuries and the driver served time in prison.

Charlie Wintzer, the property owner, says he plans to offer a reward for information leading to the driver but the details had not been finalized by early in the week.

Wintzer says the accident is isolated but there have been other wrecks reported nearby.

"It’s never happened before. We’ve had people drive into the streambed up the road a couple times," he says. "If someone was on the sidewalk, they would have been killed."


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