Book her! Outback goes up stairs

All Cheryl Longnecker wanted was to return some borrowed books. Instead, she ended up a media spectacle when she accidentally backed her car up the front steps of the main public library.

"I'm so embarrassed," says Longnecker shortly after the April 12 accident. "What can I possibly say?"

Longnecker, a nurse, explains that a work-related stress fracture had put her right foot in a cast topped by an open-toed boot to make walking possible.

If only it made good driving possible.

"I was parallel parking and went to tap the pedal to back up just a hair," says Longnecker. "Then I couldn't find the brake pedal. It was over in two seconds."

Within minutes of the approximately 12:15pm event, police began rolling out yellow caution tape. Then someone had an idea.

Like all Subarus, Longnecker's Outback features all-wheel drive. And although the accident ripped off the rear bumper and mangled the exhaust system, a driver from Charlottesville Wrecker started the engine and navigated the vehicle down the stairs and on to Market Street.

One of the library's granite steps split and collapsed, another cracked, and the bronze railing was bent, but there were no injuries. City spokesman Maurice Jones says that although no charges are pending, Longnecker or her insurance company will probably be liable for the "$10,000-plus" damage to the library.

"The police officer says one day I'll laugh about this," says Longnecker. "I'm just so grateful nobody was on the sidewalk or the steps."

"All I wanted to do was return these library books," says Cheryl Longnecker of Lake Monticello.