Man takes car to Tenn. auto school shop for repair, says student totaled his car

ELIZABETHTON, TN (WJHL) — A viewer reached out to News Channel 11 after he says he took his car in to get his engine light diagnosed and ended up with a totaled car.

Ryan Gouge said he dropped his car off at Tennessee College of Applied Technology’s auto department and a student drove his car miles away and crashed it.

“We’re in the same place we were a week ago with no vehicle, no way to get our child to daycare,” Gouge said.

Last week, before Gouge took his Pontiac into the auto shop at TCAT, he said it was in great condition, and he was about to pay the car off. He said he dropped it off and the student told him they’d call when they diagnosed the problem.

“The first call I got was 2 and a half hours later letting me know that one of their students, it was the student letting me know, that he wrecked my vehicle down a 30-foot embankment asking me what he should do,” Gouge said. “I thought he was joking.”

He said he then tried to call the program instructor, the director of the school and got nowhere.

“After that, we couldn’t get any answers from anybody, nobody was offering a rental vehicle and we hired an attorney,” Gouge said.

Then Monday he called the Tennessee Board of Regents, the governing body over schools like TCAT.

“That office at the board of regents here in Nashville is working with the campus to determine exactly what happened, they’re in the middle of an investigation,” Rick Locker, interim director of communications for Tennessee Board of Regents said.

While TBR investigates, the insurance companies are fighting over who is at fault here and who has to pay, according to Gouge’s attorney. Gouge said he never signed anything saying they could drive his vehicle

And now, a week later, “It’s been hard on our family, it’s been stressful, you know we’re bumming rides,” Gouge said. “I’d just like some answers and a solution to this.”

Locker said that is what they are working on, “We’re just sorry that this incident has happened and we’re working on it and we will get back with Mr. Gouge as soon as we can,” Locker said.

We talked with the director of TCAT in Elizabethton, Dean Blevins, who told us because it is under investigation he will not comment on this situation.

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