Share this article

print logo

Ice car owner’s next step: getting a power washer

Justin Yelen plans to use a power washer to thaw the layers of frozen lake water that gave his Mitsubishi Lancer that distinct Ice Age look that went viral earlier this week.

The 24-year-old bartender went to Hoak’s Restaurant in Hamburg late Sunday afternoon with friends to watch some sports.

Yelen had expected there would be snow on his car when he left later that evening.

He didn’t count on an ice mobile.

“It’s not going anywhere, that’s for sure,” said Yelen, who returned Tuesday to the Lakeshore Road restaurant to check on his vehicle – and to be interviewed by ABC News.

The car remained frozen Tuesday where he had parked it Sunday – facing the lake and on the side of the lot closest to the water. Wind gusts of up to 40 mph had whipped up the water, sending it over Yelen’s car and onto Route 5, where police and fire personnel closed a stretch of the icy highway.

Yelen and a friend were returning from the city – a straight shot along the lake on Route 5 – where they had stopped at Cole’s on Elmwood Avenue for a Bloody Mary and then headed to Mulberry’s Restaurant in Lackawanna for dinner. Yelen, who also waits tables at Eddie Brady’s, has many friends in the service industry, he explained, and visits them often.

When he arrived at Hoak’s on Sunday, the Green Bay Packers were edging the Washington Redskins and the Buffalo Sabres were about to face off against the Winnipeg Jets.

Yelen settled in at the bar.

“We were watching the Green Bay game on Sunday, and we might have watched some of the Sabres game, too,” recalled Yelen. “I kept on going outside to charge my phone, and my car didn’t seem that bad.”

Ed Hoak, who has seen many cars ice up over decades of watching Lake Erie from the decks of his family restaurant, said he warns employees not to park lakeside facing the water no matter what the season.

“We closed on a Fourth of July weekend – once in 20 years – because the winds picked up, blew the awning off of Foit’s, which is now torn down, hit the power line and cut the power along Route 5. The water was flying over the wall on July 4th weekend. We cook with gas so that didn’t bother us, but we didn’t have any exhaust and the kitchen became too hot.”

In the early ’80s, Hoak recalled, a Ford plant worker from Germany parked right where Yelen’s iced car has sat for two days.

“We told him to move the car,” said Hoak. “He spent four days and three nights up in the apartment. He could not get in the car, but when he did it started right up.”

Hoak’s employees told Yelen to move his vehicle on Sunday, but Yelen left his silver car where it sat in the parking lot and ended up getting a ride home from Hoak’s with his friend. He said he didn’t even think about it until Monday morning, when he was awakened by his father banging on his bedroom door.

“He was not happy,” said Yelen. “I kept telling him not to worry, that we just need to let it melt. It’s going to be 40 degrees Monday.

“I didn’t expect this, not at all,” said Yelen, standing outside Hoak’s Tuesday looking at his car.

Now he plans to hit the car hard with a cold-water power wash. Hot water freezes faster, he was told. “And I’m going to dump rock salt all around it – to at least get the tires free.”

email: jkwiatkowski@buffnews.com