It was a normal Friday for Ball State alumnus David Pankow, 22. Then, his car caught on fire.
Pankow, who lives on Linden Street, had an 11:30 a.m. shift at Pita Pit. Knowing his white, 1998 Toyota Corolla usually doesn't handle well in the rain.
"I got in my car and I started driving here and it was raining super bad, so I was going to go down Linden [Street], which is where my house is, but it was flooding bad, so I opted to go for New York [Avenue] instead," Pankow said. "I noticed probably around at the light at New York and Riverside [avenues] it was starting to sputter a little bit, and this is nothing new — my car has always had trouble in the rain."
Then, around 11:45 a.m., his car started making louder noises.
"I managed to get her [the car] in the parking lot and she was really sputtering so I turned her off. I was about to pop the hood and then I heard a pop — it felt like a firework like the vibration. So, I thought that was really odd so I got out, and I saw that the steam had turned to smoke."
Pankow, who works driver and in-store shifts at Pita Pit, said a retired firefighter was across the street and got out of his car to help call the fire department.
The fire was contained underneath the car's hood and didn't cause any internal damage to the car, said Pankow, who graduated in May 2018.
For now, the alumnus said he's going to send any information and photos to his insurance agent. Until then, he won't pick up any driver shifts at Pita Pit, Pankow said.