Flooding Traps Rental Car in Olympic National Park

While on a camping trip to Washington, Claude Hite of Tampa, Fla. and a friend became trapped in a rented Chrysler PT Cruiser Nov. 6 when floods washed out part of the only road into the Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports.

The park service rescued the men, along with two stranded park workers, after two days. But a 75-foot-long, 25-foot-deep section of Hoh Road is gone, and Hite's rental car, along with the workers' private vehicles, remains stuck inside the park.

Back in Tampa, Hite's wife, Pat, worries that the couple will have to pay rent on that car until it can be recovered, costing Hite an extra $20 to $27 per day for every day the car is trapped. The car might not be brought out of the park until the spring, as continuing heavy rains threaten further flooding.

Hite rented the new, burgundy PT Cruiser for 17 days for $425, plus fuel, from Thrifty Car Rental at Sea-Tac Airport. The car was due back the day Hite flew home, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Greg MacKenzie, risk manager at the local Thrifty business, said charges generally accrue until a rental car is returned, though he might lower the rate in Hite's case.

Hite did not purchase a waiver to cover loss or damage ($28.50 per day, including taxes) that exceeded the daily rental cost. The Hites' car insurance policy in Florida through Esurance covers theft or damage but not loss of use.

MacKenzie said Thrifty might charge him its cost-recovery rate -- what it cost the company per day to buy the vehicle from Chrysler. That rate would be about $19.50 per day, including taxes and fees. Hite is now paying a mix of weekly and daily rates, which work out to about $24 to $27 per day.

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