COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The Circle K convenience store chain offered reassurance Monday to the owners of vehicles damaged by a fuel mix-up Saturday at a store on the eastern border of Colorado Springs.
In a statement released late Monday afternoon, the company said it was aware of the situation, took responsibility for it and resolved it.
The store in question is located at the junction of U.S. 24 and Highway 94.
It's believed at least 20 drivers unknowingly filled up their tanks with the wrong fuel. The mix-up was caused when a truck driver with Streamline Petroleum--the store's fuel supplier--accidentally mixed the lines for diesel and unleaded fuel during delivery.
Many drivers didn’t realize they filled their cars with the wrong fuel until their vehicles broke down just a few miles away. Several victims refuse to pay for the damages caused by the mix-up.
Tierney Emery, whose brand-new van is damaged by the fuel, said she was contacted Monday by a Circle K official.
"The Circle K manager said that she had spoken with their claims department, and they were getting claim numbers for all of the people who were affected, and we would hear personally from their claims department in 24 to 48 hours. I feel better than I did Saturday about them making this right."
But another victim, Kailey Borata, is still dismayed.
"Circle K is working on processing the claims," she said. "But we haven't received an answer as to when they will get us a rental vehicle, or given us a timeline on having our truck towed and repaired."
Borata said a manager did apologize multiple times for an employee telling her to repair her truck "the ghetto way."
Scott Zarling, owner of Courtesy Automotive Service in Colorado Springs, explained the kind of vehicle damage that can result from such a fuel mix-up.
"It's going to effect everything with the fuel system," he said. "The fuel tank itself, the fuel pump, all of the fuel lines, the fuel filters, the fuel injectors and the combustion system. Minimal, $1,000 to $1,500 to upwards of maybe $3,000 for a repair."
Zarling said in most cases, the engine can be salvaged.
Any driver who may be affected by the situation and wants to contact Circle K may contact the company at 919-774-6700,
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“Ten minutes into driving we noticed our car was making some pretty funky noises,” said Tierney Emery, who lives just minutes away from the gas station. On Saturday, Emery and her family stopped to fill up their vehicle while before heading out for a weekend fishing trip.
After bringing their brand new 2018 Honda Odyssey to the dealership, they were told they put diesel fuel into the car, not unleaded.
"We called Circle K, the minute they answer the phone we said 'we were having issues with our fuel'," said Emery. "They said we already know, you're the eighth caller today."
Emery soon realized on Facebook, there were several more victims.
Colorado Springs resident Kailey Borata is in the same boat. Her husband also thought he filled their truck with unleaded gas, now it won’t start. She says Circle K staff have been less than helpful when she calls to ask what will be done.
“They told us that there is a 'ghetto way' to fix (the truck)," said Borata. "That we could let the vehicle run in idle until the gas tank empties. I said I don’t want to fix it the 'ghetto way'. I want you guys to fix it because this was your mistake. He said well you can contact the fuel company cause this is their fault, not ours.”
Borata and her husband spoke with Streamline Petroleum, the company that delivered the fuel. They told them to contact Circle K.
Three tankers were at the gas station Sunday as they pumped out 16,000 gallons of diesel fuel from the unleaded tank.
Vern Winslow, a former Streamline Petroleum employee, was called in to help pump out tanks that got contaminated with diesel gas. He says the mistake was simple, yesterday's gas driver simply got the hoses crossed.
“Dropped a compartment of diesel into the no lead and then no lead into the diesel," said Winslow. "You can do it that easily even though everything is color-coded."
For now the gas station has stopped selling fuel, and it’s unclear when the gas station will be operational.
KRDO reached out to both Circle K management and Streamline Petroleum for comment, neither would answer our questions.
Out of the several victims that spoke with KRDO, Emery is the only person to receive a return phone call from Circle K management after issuing a complaint.
She says they are working with their claims department. They promise to pay for the gas that was bought, any fees for towing, rental cars, and costs for repairs. For Emery, repairs to the car could cost as much as $1,000.