TOWN OF HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Some drivers on Long Island say their car engines sputtered, stalled and died after leaving a gas station in Nassau County.
Now, they want to know who put diesel fuel into a pumped that was labeled premium gas.
As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, the pumps were emptied, cleaned and back working by Wednesday night, but it was a mess when multiple cars starting conking out just after fill-up.
“The car wouldn’t start. It kept on chugging, chugging, chugging. Black smoke was coming out,” Andrew Lazzarano told McLogan. “Now, I’m panicking. I said, ‘Oh my god, what could it be?’”
He had to have his BMW towed. He just bought the car two months ago.
His neighborhood mechanic gave him the bad news — a $1,000 bill. Diesel fuel, not premium, had been pumped into his tank.
“He goes, ‘Do you see that car over there?’ I go, ‘Yeah.’ He goes, ‘The guy, same thing, bought the gas at the same place, same station, and he has same problem.’ I said, ‘you gotta be kidding me.’ He said, ‘it was diesel in there.’ He could smell it and see the difference it was diesel,” Lazzarano said.
He filled his car from a pump labeled 93 octane-premium in Franklin Square, but what came out was diesel, which can ruin an engine.
“Damage could be major. The first thing we have to do is we have to tow the car back here, and then drop every drop of fuel out of the tank, whatever’s in there, whatever kind of fuel it is. We then need to flush out all the lines, flush out all the fuel injectors,” said James DeBold, of Garden City’s Garage, adding it’s “very costly.”
So how could this happen? CBS2 followed an experienced Bolla delivery driver to the Hempstead Turnpike destination, where multiple fuel holding tanks are filled from a variety of storage containers in the tanker.
“You have to be very careful and pay attention to what you are doing all the time, and watch your surroundings for people, and try not to get distracted,” the driver said.
But one of its veteran employees apparently did get distracted, McLogan reported.
“Our investigation determined that it was a delivery error. Once we made that determination, we worked closely with Nassau County authorities to address the situation overnight so that we could reopen,” said Bolla Oil Corp Chief Legal Officer Michael Lewis.
“All I want is I want this resolved. That’s all I want,” Lazzarano said.
The company said the affected customers will be reimbursed and it’s working on insurance claims. It called it an unfortunate accident.
Nassau County Consumer Affairs asks anyone with a complaint to contact them.