Car-smashing raises funds for flooded vehicle

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By Aaron Atkins

RADFORD — Members of the Theta Chi fraternity came up with an unusual method to aid one of their own in replacing his car, one of the vehicles lost to the floodwaters when the New River crested its banks and swamped a set of Radford University parking lots near the Dedmon Center in February — smash it with a 10-pound sledge.

RU senior Mary Cook slams a hammer into a car, which was declared a total loss following a flood in early February. Members of the Theta Chi fraternity hosted the smashing in an effort to raise funds to replace the car for its owner. Photo by Aaron Atkins.

The car, owned by Theta Chi member Brandon Lewis, was a total loss following the flood. Instead of just junking it, Lewis donated it to the fraternity in hopes of recovering enough funds to replace it. The vehicle, with its window glass removed for safety reasons, was towed to parking lot EE outside RU’s Dalton Hall where members of the fraternity collected donations Thursday afternoon.

The window glass was removed for safety reasons. Each donation bought its donor, adorned with safety glasses and a hard hat, around 30 seconds of smash time to swing the sledge and further demolish the flood-ruined car.

“One of our brothers (Theta Chi member Brandon Lewis) owned one of the cars in the flood, and he only had liability insurance on it,” Theta Chi fundraising chair Da’Mon Brown told the News Journal. “I’ve always wanted to smash a car like this, so this was perfect. He (Lewis) donated his car to us to smash, so here we are.”

Brown said half the funds raised would go to Lewis to put toward replacing his ruined ride; the rest would go into the fraternity treasury.

Around 140 vehicles were lost to the flood, which resulted from back-to-back rain and snowfalls that forced American Electric Power officials at Claytor Dam to release around 72,000 cubic feet of water per second to control rising water in Claytor Lake, which crested around 2.5 feet above its normal full-pond elevation of 1,846 feet above sea level.