Skip to main content

'A total write-off': Kitchener resident asks for thousands from city, after driving over 'faulty' manhole cover


James Trautman wants the City of Kitchener to cover the thousands of dollars in damage to his car after he drove over a “faulty” manhole cover.

He said it was sticking out of the ground along Highland Road West when he ran over it in his 2005 Toyota Camry in early April.

“First thing I knew my car was airborne,” Trautman told CTV News. “All I heard was a crash and then the hood coming up, then trying to figure out: ‘I didn’t see anything. What the heck happened?’”

He realized what caused the damage after speaking with bystanders.

“A witness said [the manhole cover] was standing up and that’s why it smashed into the bottom of the car,” Trautman recalled.

Damage to James Trautman's 2005 Toyota Camry. (Tyler Kelaher/CTV Kitchener)

The crash closed a stretch of Highland Road and Trautman said he needed a tow truck to move his vehicle back home.

He doesn’t think he’ll be able to drive the Camry again.

“The car is a total write-off,” Trautman said. “It destroyed the entire engine compartment.”

He believes it could cost up to $7,000 for repairs, but only wants the city to pay back what his vehicle would have sold for at market value. He filed a damage claim with the city through the Waterloo Region Municipalities Insurance Pool, but the claim was denied.

A report sent to Trautman claims previous city inspections found the manhole cover was set in place, adding: “It is our position that the city has not been negligent in performing a reasonable standard of maintenance and consequently cannot accept liability for his claim.”

The City of Kitchener denied CTV’s request for interview, saying it can’t comment on the specifics of an open claim.

“I was really upset because I thought it was a city manhole cover,” Trautman said.

James Trautman in his 2005 Toyota Camry. (Tyler Kelaher/CTV Kitchener)

Since the April incident, he’s been getting rides from his neighbour to and from Woodstock where he manages an antiques business. Recently, he’s been using a rental car but needs to find a permanent solution soon.

“I’m not looking to make trouble, or a big payday, or anything,” Trautman explained. “I lost that car, I lost my economic engine, and I lost my independence.”

He said he hasn’t filed a claim with his insurance provider yet because he doesn’t think he’s at fault and prefers to avoid adding a report to his record. Top Stories

Stay Connected