He called the blue Ford Taurus his baby and kept it meticulously clean.
Tuesday night, baby was gone.
A woman fleeing the police in a van slammed into John Mitchell's Taurus while he worked a shift at Carl's Jr. at NW 23 and N MacArthur Boulevard in Oklahoma City.
Mitchell's Taurus and a white Chevy Tahoe that belonged to another employee burst into flames.
The dramatic events followed a police chase through Oklahoma City just before 7 p.m. Tuesday.
It started at EZ Pawn, 6917 Northwest Expressway, when a man and woman identified as suspects for pawning stolen goods came into the store, said Oklahoma City police Lt. Isaac Goodman. Police arrived and arrested the man, but as a police officer approached the woman sitting in a white van in the parking lot, she took off.
The woman drove north to W Britton Road, where she pulled into an apartment complex. The officer pursuing her called off the chase and called for back up because he had a suspect in the back of his squad car, Goodman said.
Officers spotted the white van within 10 minutes and tried to stop the vehicle at N MacArthur Boulevard and NW 83. A pursuit followed.
The white van slammed into an unoccupied squad car at N MacArthur Boulevard and NW 23, possibly swerving to avoid deflation devices at the intersection. The van went over a curb and hit two unoccupied cars in the parking lot.
The cars burst into flames. The woman fled on foot and was arrested in front of Taco Bueno, next to Carl's Jr., Goodman said. She was taken to a hospital.
Mitchell, the Oklahoma City resident who lost his Taurus in the incident, said he's got another nickname for the vehicle: “My step car,” he said. He is in a 12-step program and drives friends to the program, too, he said.
He'll need to get a ride from a friend to his second job at a cellphone store in the morning, he said, but the car is insured.
Jessica Graham is a shift leader at Carl's Jr. and lives with her husband, four children and a stepson in Oklahoma City.
Her husband, Chris MacGrath, came to work to support his wife, and the couple went through the burned-out Tahoe to try and salvage possessions. The family just got the car, which was the only car big enough to cart most of them around. The car is also insured, but in the meantime, the crash is a major inconvenience.
“I'm not really sure what we're going to do,” Chris MacGrath said. “I just got laid off a few weeks ago.”