Chloe Scholtus loved that damn car so much she bought it again.
In February 2016, Scholtus was driving her 1984 Mercedes 300D through Uptown in Minneapolis when someone blew through a stop sign. Scholtus was all right. Her beloved beast of an automobile was destroyed.
By chance, Scholtus was able to track down another, and within a couple months was back on the road again in a car of the same make.
"I love that car; they’re classics," says Scholtus, 25, who also appreciates the great gas mileage on its diesel engine. "They pull on my heart."
Scholtus' replacement 300D was getting a lot of action lately, as her job with an Edina jewelry business was suddenly demanding more errand-running trips around the Twin Cities.
On the night of July 4th, Scholtus parked outside CC Club, an iconic south Minneapolis watering hole with an old school charm to rival the Mercedes.
Just after 1 a.m. the next morning, as Scholtus and friends hung out inside the bar, a car traveling south on Lyndale Avenue veered off to its right and smashed right into the 23-year-old vehicle. The Mercedes rolled onto the sidewalk and a few feet more before hitting a pole outside neighboring French Meadows Bistro.
The other car jarred to a stop, paused for about a second, and got right back into traffic.
"If you watch the video, the driver was definitely drunk," Scholtus says. "Or if they weren’t, then I'm afraid to get back on the road."
Scholtus didn't discover what happend until a half-hour later, when she came out to find the damage done.
"That car, the 300D, is a tank," Scholtus says. "It’s really heavy. But [the crash] was so hard, the transmission knocked out of its mount. That's why it rolled forward. Normally it wouldn’t have even moved."
For the second time in 18 months, someone had totaled one of Scholtus' beloved Mercedes. And unlike the last time, Scholtus didn't have another driver to pay for a new one.
She obtained a surveillance video from the CC Club (seen above), and another from French Meadow, which is blurrier, but in color. Her gear-head friends who've watched the videos guess the car that did this was a blue or black SUV on the smaller side, maybe some sort of Jeep.
Other businesses along the street did not have clear surveillance footage of that night to help her. In a discussion with her chiropractor, who also works on Lyndale, Scholtus learned of Jim Fiala, a longtime resident who has rigged up numerous cameras to film the avenue, and has assisted in several police investigations. (Fiala had helped her chiropractor track down the driver in his own hit-and-run accident.)
To no avail: Repeat attempts to contact Fiala have proven fruitless, and Scholtus' efforts to solicit help from the Minneapolis Fifth Police Precinct haven't gone far. A lawyer acquaintance told Scholtus she could hire a video expert to see if they could isolate the other car's license plate, though he warned that might cost more than Scholtus' $1,000 deductible.
Instead, Scholtus is asking the broader public for help. The rain that night probably drove potential witnesses inside the bar. But, as seen on the tape, plenty of cars were out on the road with her hitter-and-runner. Did no one notice this crash?
And did the driver not have to tell his or her friends what had smashed-up the front of the car they were still driving?
Anyone with a tip on who—or, at least, what vehicle—was involved in the hit-and-run should contact Minneapolis Police. Unless and until that happens, Scholtus is losing a lot of money (on cabs) and time (on buses).
She's started shopping online, checking Craigslist for "a beater [car], just something to get by with, that's cheap."
Another old Mercedes, perhaps? Scholtus admits she's thinking about it. But given her recent bad luck, she wonders: "Maybe the universe is telling me I'm not supposed to be driving that car."