CAROLINE COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A fuel mix-up at a Caroline County continues to cause major headaches for drivers along the East Coast.
The day before Thanksgiving, somehow diesel fuel was mistakenly put into all of the gas pumps at the Shell gas station on Ladysmith Road in the Ruther Glen area of Caroline County, leaving drivers with hefty repair bills.
8News received dozens of emails detailing horror stories from drivers, including Shequita Sledge, who stopped to the gas station as she traveled from South Carolina to Maryland for the holiday.
“I did hear a sound and I was like ‘Lord just carry me home, I know something isn’t right,'” Sledge said. “I made it to my sister’s house. The next morning, the car wouldn’t start. Then it started and turned off. I did that four times and it didn’t do anything. We had to push it into park.”
Sledge had her car towed to a mechanic, who questioned if she put diesel in the tank. Unknowingly, she had. Now, her car remains in Maryland getting repaired, while she drove a rental back to her home in South Carolina.
“I’ll say it’s a burden,” she said. “It’s unbelievable and horrifying. I wouldn’t wish this on nobody. I just pray and hope that anyone else affected can come together and get a resolution to this situation.”
Aside from the inconvenience of driving a rental, Sledge and other drivers are now faced repair bills. 8News obtained receipts from Grayson Ang, a Maryland resident who was impacted by the mix up. The cost to repair his 2013 Lexus was $848.26
Gerald Jacobson, a mechanic at One Stop Auto in Chesterfield, said repair includes flushing the tank of the contaminated fuel, filling it up with gasoline, replacing the fuel injector, and possibly changing the oil.
”It could range from a couple hundred dollars if it’s an easy tank like a Jeep to over a thousand if it’s a four -wheel drive,” Jacobson said. “It’s not a good thing.”
Jacobson added that unfortunately, drivers cannot prevent this situation from happening, aside from detecting the smell of diesel when pumping.
“There’s no way to really prevent this because when you put the nozzle in the tank, you can’t see what’s coming out,” he said.
Days after the incident, the question remains of who is at fault. A clerk at the Ruther Glen store pointed the finger at the diesel company. However, repeated calls and emails to Shell’s corporate office have gone unanswered.
8News legal analyst Russ Stone said lawsuits could be on the horizon.
“There may be liability from the station to the customer,” he said. “The station is where the customers bought the gas, and they have every right to think the gas will not damage their vehicle.”
Stone explained this does not necessarily place fault on Shell, but it could be the first step of the process.
If you were impacted by this situation, please reach out to AChildress@wric.com.