Melissa Kerbs left her car running for three minutes outside Hillside Village Apartments on Wednesday night, putting into gear a downhill slide of events.
At about 9:20 p.m., Kerbs, 28, left her car running while she briefly went inside her apartment at 605 Tamarack Drive, Steamboat Springs police Capt. Joel Rae said. The 1997 Saturn sedan was left unlocked and in neutral gear, with the emergency brake off. Kerbs' purse also was inside the car.
When Kerbs came back outside, her car was missing. Kerbs called 911 to report what she thought was a stolen car.
As police responded to the call, they noticed the Saturn sitting in a nearby ditch. Rae thinks the car rolled down a steep embankment toward Tamarack Drive and came to a stop in the ditch. The car rolled 50 to 75 feet from where Kerbs left it and sustained moderate damage.
Kerbs told police she had thought she put the emergency brake on, but it was not on when police found the car. A tow truck was called to get the Saturn out of the ditch.
After helping at the accident scene, tow truck driver Richard Krema, 20, returned to his home at 3300 AprÃs Ski Way at about 10:50 p.m. About 15 minutes after parking the tow truck, Krema heard a loud crash.
He told police that when he looked outside, the tow truck was "pretty much on the lower deck" of the house.
Krema said when he parked the 2003 Ford F-450 tow truck in the driveway, he turned off the vehicle, left the truck in low gear and locked the doors. The emergency brake was not engaged, Rae said.
Police think the truck began to roll backward out of the elevated, sloped driveway. As the tow truck started to roll, it followed the contour of the road and then made a U-turn, police Officer Josh Carrell said.
The tow truck slid down a steep embankment, headed back toward the house. The tow truck hit a retaining wall and spun on its side before stopping. The truck slid about 50 to 75 feet.
The retaining wall, the outside stairs and the deck were damaged. About $20,000 worth of damage was done to the tow truck, with extensive damage to the undercarriage and rear part of the truck.
Another tow truck from the company pulled out Krema's tow truck.