A PANICKED pensioner has smashed up Hinchinbrook Autowash – causing up to $250,000 damage.
More than $1 million dollars was invested in building the carwash, which opened four years ago.
A 73-year-old woman in a four-wheel drive accidentally hit one side of the autowash after driving over the guide rails, before reversing into the fence and hitting the machine twice more.
An alarm was sent to owner Brendon Andersen, who raced to the scene from his nearby workplace, where he is a part-time finance manager.
He said: ‘The lady was shaking when I arrived. She just appeared to panic and hit the machine three times.
‘The main thing is that no-one was hurt.’Hinchinbrook Autowash owner Brendon Andersen
Mr Andersen now faces an anxious wait to see if the machine will be repaired with parts needing to be sourced from Germany, or if the damage is deemed so extensive that the whole machine needs replacing.
He added: ‘Initial feedback from the manufacturer is that it may take up to seven months to repair given Covid and shipping delays.
‘Even if it is deemed more economical to replace, a new machine may still take up to mid-to-late June to install.
‘A replacement can cost up to $250,000.
‘We are insured for loss of earnings but I don’t know how it works as yet. We are receiving advice and support from our local insurance agent, Kieran Volpe.’
The father-of-three is stressing to the public that the manual washes remain open and is encouraging locals to continue to use the facility.
He said: ‘We’re still open for people to come in and manually wash their cars – they just can’t use the autowash.
‘We’d get an average of 30 cars coming through there a day normally. The most we’ve had is 57.
‘We’ve been going for four years and business is growing each year. We’ve got regulars and travelers that pass through.
‘It was an $1 million investment to start the business and it took five years of planning to convince ourselves to go ahead.’
The James Cook University graduate was born in Cairns but lived in Townsville before moving to Hinchinbrook after marrying a local Ingham girl.
A statement on Hinchinbrook Autowash’s Facebook page reads: ‘As you maybe aware, our Autowash machine was de-railed from it’s tracks last week after being accidentally hit by a 4WD.
‘Fortunately nobody was injured during the incident, although we are currently awaiting an assessment of the machine by the manufacturer to determine the full extent of the damage.
‘We thank you for your patience and support during this time and wish to stress that the manual bays and other facilities at our site remain open for business.’
Mr Andersen is a stalwart of Ingham Wolves Football Club and has served the club as a player and coach for many years.
The 41-year-old is currently the club’s treasurer and player-coach for the third team.
In a separate incident, last year he was contacted by police for CCTV footage after a car thief from Townsville had stopped to wash a vehicle while attempting to flee north.
The video shows police swooping on the carwash and arresting the alleged criminal.