Car totaled in Suffolk County winds up in Ukraine, helps family of mechanic escape Russian invasion

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Friday, March 3, 2023
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Gia Savocchi's totaled Volkswagen was fixed up by a mechanic in Ukraine who used it to escape the country with his family. Darla Miles has the story.

NORTHPORT, Long Island (WABC) -- A woman on Long Island got rid of her Volkswagen after it was totaled following an accident, but what she didn't know was that her vehicle would end up saving lives half a world away.

The car ended up in Ukraine, where it was fixed up and used to get a family out of the country and escape Russia's invasion.

"So, what are the odds, you know, what are the odds that from a car accident, something good can come of it, like really good," Northport resident Gia Savocchi said.

The Volkswagen had 145,000 miles on it and Savocchi planned to log another 100,000 miles until she was t-boned last year and was totaled by her car insurance.

"Before I sent it off to heaven, I put information in the glove box just in case someone took it, repaired it, and has a question about its history," Savocchi said.

The car records were retrieved from the glove box and used to track Savocchi down a year later.

"It was in Cyrillic, and I was like, this is going to be a scam, 100%," Savocchi said. "It said something like, 'I have your car' and I was like yeah, you have my car."

The message read, "I bought a car from Ukraine. I found you on Instagram out of curiosity."

"I was very emotional when he contacted me, like I could not believe it," Savocchi said. "He purchased it. It was put on a container ship, and it arrived to Ukraine the day before the war started, got stuck on the container ship."

Mold grew throughout the interior of the blue VW, which had been purchased for $2,000.

Because of the war, it got stuck on the ship and it took six months to be released. The new owner, a mechanic, fixed it up and tricked it out.

"Literally the day after it was fixed, they hopped in the car and left, and he said your car gave us new life," Savocchi said. "And it was really moving because they were stuck there."

The family fled the war to the Czech Republic. The father of two messaged Savocchi saying "I gave her a second life and she gave me. I love this car."

That is clear from a video of him dancing while driving behind the wheel.

"I was like thing, this thing I was so upset about," Savocchi said. "It upset me for a while, it was a wonderful thing. It's great that I got in a car accident. It saved this man, potentially saved this man and his family's life."


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