Driver strikes local art display and flees, but leaves license plate at the scene

Pocatello

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Part of a public artwork display lies in pieces after it was struck by a vehicle earlier this week. The incident occurred on the lawn at the Old Town Pavilion on North Main Street. | Courtesy Rory Erchul

POCATELLO — Whoever ran over and destroyed an interactive public art piece earlier this week didn’t make a clean getaway.

A key piece of evidence was left at the scene — the bumper and license plate from the suspect’s vehicle.

Authorities believe the incident occurred sometime Tuesday evening or early Wednesday morning at the Old Town Pocatello Pavilion on 420 N. Main St. The art piece that was destroyed was part of a display on the lawn in front of Old Town Pocatello’s offices.

On Wednesday morning, local resident Rory Erchul discovered the middle portion of the art display completely shattered, with broken sections spread out on the grass. Erchul believes the display was intentionally vandalized.

“The art is in a spot where it had to be intentionally hit,” Erchul told the Idaho State Journal.

Besides the damage to the art display, a large flower plot was also stolen from the front of Old Town Pocatello’s office building.

Unfortunately, Erchul said this isn’t the first time public artwork has been destroyed by somebody’s vehicle at the pavilion. A couple years ago, the exact same incident occurred, where the middle piece of the art display was run over.

The culprit in that case was never identified. But the incident on Tuesday night has already had a far different outcome.

When the suspect’s vehicle crashed into the art piece earlier this week, the bumper became detached and was left at the scene.

Attached to the bumper was the license plate, which made it very convenient for investigators to track down the vehicle. However, authorities are still trying to make contact with the driver.

While police continue to investigate the incident, the destruction of the art piece has infuriated many Pocatello residents and downtown business owners.

For Erchul, seeing the art piece destroyed really struck a nerve.

“This is kind of a personal thing, because I was on the committee to select this piece and have it installed at the pavilion,” he said.

To repair the damage, Old Town Pocatello must first pay a $1,000 insurance deductible. My Local Pocatello, a Facebook page run by Erchul and his wife, Jennifer, has teamed up with Old Town Pocatello to help raise money to pay that deductible.

Donations can be made www.gofundme.com/RelightTheNight. Anybody donating is advised to add a note that the money is for the damaged public art.

After the deductible is met, Erchul said that any additional money raised will be used to construct barriers near the existing art display.

“Once we have barriers in place, nobody will be able to run over the art pieces with their vehicles again,” he said.

This article was originally published in the Idaho State Journal. It is used here with permission.

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