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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, November 18, 2006

Early-morning pool dip costly for driver of SUV

Video: SUV takes early morning dip

By Dan Nakaso
Advertiser Staff Writer

This was the view Francesco Valentini woke up to yesterday. He lives near the Regency Towers, where an SUV was parked in the pool.

Francesco Valentini

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A white sport utility vehicle crashed through fencing early yesterday morning and plunged to the bottom of the Regency Towers condominium pool where it remained for several hours until tow truck operators pulled it out at a cost that could total $7,000.

The 2003 Toyota 4Runner ended up in the Date Street pool at about 4 a.m. yesterday. Paul Girard, the Regency Towers resident manager, declined to say what caused the 4Runner to crash through the month-old white vinyl fence and land in the pool, in the center of the Regency Towers third-floor parking lot.

Francesco Valentini, a resident at the adjacent Royal Iolani condominium, surveyed the McCully neighborhood from the 11th-floor lanai yesterday morning.

"I (normally) see a beautiful pool," Valentini said. "No car, usually, inside. So, I was a little surprised to see an SUV."

About 10:30 a.m., Daniel Sniffen, the 32-year-old owner of Sniffen's Auto Express tow company, slipped on a mask and snorkel to hook the SUV to the back of one of his trucks and pull it onto the pool deck.

The operation took an hour and was witnessed by the vehicle's owner, who is in the military, Sniffen said.

There were no injuries.

The Toyota will need several repairs, Sniffen said. "It's going to be a car that has a lot of problems."

Sniffen was spitting out the taste of gasoline that leaked from the 4Runner as he said his costs will be $1,000 to $7,000. "I've pulled plenty ones out of the ocean, but not a pool," he said. "This is one of the rare ones."

He and his four-man crew took pictures of the SUV in various stages as it was fished from the pool. "That's for our personal use for what we did today," Sniffen said. "Everybody wants to see it."

Reach Dan Nakaso at dnakaso@honoluluadvertiser.com.