Rainbow rental returns wrecked | SteamboatToday.com

Rainbow rental returns wrecked

A few casualties emerged from the woods in North Routt County on Monday and made their way to a Steamboat Springs collision repair shop.

A man who said he was coming from the Rainbow gathering, 35 miles north of Steamboat Springs, looked beaten up and was not talking clearly because his face was swollen when he entered the Custom Color shop Monday, said the shop’s owner Dave Mihaich.

“All his front teeth were as loose as could be,” Mihaich said.

The man’s rental car was in bad shape, as well. Mihaich estimated the cost to repair damage to the 2006 Ford Focus at $15,181.06.

The damage was mostly cosmetic, but the car, which retails for $9,400, was totaled.

The man, who Mihaich described as “filthy” with dreadlocks down to his thighs, said the damage occurred to the car after he visited “A-camp,” where drugs and alcohol were prevalent. The man also said he was beaten up there, Mihaich said.

“He pulled into A-camp, and they pretty much pummeled him,” Mihaich said the man told him.

The week-long gathering attracted an estimated 15,000 hippies and counterculture enthusiasts.

It officially ended Friday, but some gatherers are staying to clean up.

John Centner, general manager of Steamboat Motors, said the man rented the car about a week and a half ago.

Despite concern expressed by many business owners about gatherers coming to town, the business rented the man the car.

“He had all the right credentials. We wanted to be good stewards, and we didn’t want to be discriminatory, so we rented him the car,” Centner said.

The car was not returned on time, and the business charged the man’s credit card for the additional days.

After a charge was declined Friday, Centner said the business reported the car stolen to police.

The car finally appeared Monday.

“I was shocked to see the damage,” Centner said. “Every panel on the car is dented. In 27 years of being in the car business, short of a wreck, I’ve never seen that type of damage to a car.”

Centner said it was too early to tell whether the renter had insurance. The car runs well, but it likely will be treated as junk and auctioned for salvageable materials, Mihaich said.

The car was covered in dust, the spare tire was missing, and nearly every window was missing or had been smashed.

There was broken glass, and an odor lingered in the car.

“You kind of feel gross just touching it,” Mihaich said.

All that remained inside the car was an empty Swiss Miss hot chocolate packet, a fist-sized rock sitting on the floor of the back seat and a bag of pure sugar cane in the glove box.

“They just absolutely trashed this car, and everyone paints a real rosy picture, and I just thought people should see the remnants of the Rainbows’ visit to Steamboat Springs,” Centner said.

— To reach Matt Stensland, call 871-4210

or –e-mail mstensland@steamboatpilot.com.

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