LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - It’s beaten up, smells like pot, and needs much more than a coat of paint, but Summer Hendricks’ car is back in her possession, and for that, she’s grateful.
“The officers gave me a call and they said, ‘We got great news — we found your car,’” Hendricks said. “And I was ecstatic. Like, I was literally like, ‘Oh my gosh.’”
Hendricks was reunited with her vehicle just a few weeks after the scariest moment of her life.
On March 29, she parked her car — a black four-door Kia Optima — in the back of the parking lot of Planet Fitness on Shelbyville Road. Moments later, a thin, white man wearing black overalls and a gray hooded sweatshirt approached her car. The police report states the man opened the driver’s side door, pressed a handgun to her side, and pulled her from the vehicle.
Hendricks complied, and the man drove off with her car. She never thought she’d see it again until a St. Matthews police officer called with good news: Louisville Metro police officer had found the car near the Outer Loop.
The officer on the phone asked her to come to pick up the car.
“To me, it feels like a miracle, because a lot of these times, these things don’t pop back up,” Hendricks said. “Or when they do come back, they’re completely damaged, undrivable. So, it’s an answer to prayers, without a doubt.”
That said, the car is not in the best of shape. The front bumper is scratched and dented, the passenger sun visor mirror is shattered, the radio was ripped out and the suspect drove roughly 2,500 miles.
St. Matthew’s Police Chief Barry Wilkerson said that’s a sign the suspect could’ve used the vehicle to commit other crimes.
“[Criminals] may go out looking to steal other cars or get other items out of cars,” Wilkerson said. “And a lot of times they’re actually used in what we call dope rentals, where they’ll exchange the use of the car for any kind of dope that they’re using at the time.”
Along with the damage, Hendricks found things in her trunk she’d never seen before, including a black bin filled with documents, office supplies, and employee badges.
She attempted to give the material back but was unsuccessful.
Through it all, Hendricks said what the suspect did not take is more important than what he did; he left behind Hendricks’ mother’s high school bible, and he also let her live.
So, though her car will need a trip to the body shop, Hendricks is taking the high road.
“I forgive him; I do,” Hendricks said. “I absolutely forgive him, but what you did was wrong. You took from someone who needed that car just as bad as you needed it. It was wrong and you’re going to get in trouble for it.”
Wilkerson said before LMPD recovered the car, they found it days before driving around the city. When officers attempted to pull the car over, Wilkerson said the person inside took off and led police officers on a short chase before he got away.
The chief also said officers are still attempting to locate the suspect. They have not made an arrest in the case.