Trooper: Car in water-filled ditch belonged to wet teen who claimed it was stolen |

Trooper: Car in water-filled ditch belonged to wet teen who claimed it was stolen

by F.T. Norton
Nevada Appeal Staff Writer

A vehicle found upside down in a canal Wednesday morning in Washoe City belonged to a Carson City teen who stumbled up to freeway construction workers there Tuesday morning, wet, disoriented and claiming his car had been stolen, an official said.

Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Chuck Allen said construction workers discovered the car in two feet of water about 8:15 a.m. at the north end of Washoe City just south of Washoe Hill.

Allen said that when Washoe County deputies heard the Wednesday morning call they arrived on the scene and told troopers of the incident the previous morning involving Gene Chavez, 19.

“It appears that (Tuesday) morning (Chavez) approached construction workers near this area and stated that he couldn’t locate his vehicle. He appeared very wet and confused, showed signs of having minor injuries, as well as having an odor of alcohol on his person,” Allen said in a news release. “He was transported to Carson Tahoe (Regional Medical Center) for his injuries and released shortly thereafter. After being treated for his injuries, he reported his vehicle stolen, as he had no knowledge of where it was.”

Chavez’ aunt called Carson City deputies at 9:51 a.m. Tuesday and reported that Chavez was at the hospital, that he had been carjacked, and he didn’t know where his vehicle was.

But based on the condition he was in Tuesday morning, along with other evidence found at the scene of the accident, troopers suspect Chavez wrecked his own vehicle, then left the scene, said Allen.

A preliminary breath test indicated Chavez had alcohol in his system, but he only registered .04, half the legal limit, said Allen.

Chavez is expected to be cited for failure to maintain travel lane, driving the wrong way on a highway, hit and run with property damage, failure to report an accident and no proof of insurance.

The accident investigation revealed that the Pontiac four-door sedan was northbound on Highway 395, veered across the southbound lanes, off the west road edge and struck a road sign.

“The vehicle continued in a relatively straight line on the west side of the highway and travel through two sections of fence. The vehicle then struck a guide wire anchoring a power pole before stopping in the canal. The vehicle came to rest on its top with the driver’s door ajar,” Allen said.

He said the accident likely happened earlier than the 6 a.m. morning commute Tuesday.

“Otherwise there would have a been a head-on collision,” said Allen.

– Contact reporter F.T. Norton at or 881-1213.