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Monday, 17 November 2014 00:00

Montville body shop gives car to submariner

A local auto body shop (Montville, CT) has come through for Navy torpedoman Richard Koester in his family's time of need.   

Alex Pesarik, owner of B&D Auto Body in Montville, presented a smiling Koester and his wife, Jamie, with the keys to a rebuilt 2010 Kia Forte on Veterans Day in a brief ceremony at the business.

"It's crazy," Koester said. "I never thought that anything like this would happen. I appreciate everything every one of these men and women did. They helped out a family that desperately needed help." 


Koester, 36, and his wife took turns sitting in the driver's seat of the Kia, which is silver and came with a giant green bow on its top. They can't take it home for a day or two until it's registered.   

For several months Koester, who serves on the USS San Juan, has been making the early morning walk from Navy housing in Groton to the submarine base because of the family's lack of transportation. The Koesters had tried to register a previously purchased car, but were unable to do so when Koester was on deployment, he said. That vehicle's loan was canceled and the Koesters had to give it back, he said.   

Koester, his wife and children, ages 3 and 1, have been relying on friends and neighbors for transportation since then.

Enter Pesarik, who worked in conjunction with Recycled Rides, a program in which insurers, collision repairers, paint suppliers, parts vendors and others collaborate to repair and donate vehicles to individuals and service organizations.   

"The Groton sub base is such a large part of our community it made perfect sense to find a veteran or active service member in need," Pesarik said. Sub Vets Groton helped coordinate the donation to the Koester family.   

Insurance company Geico donated the Kia, which B&D repaired using its own labor, paint and other material.   

"Basically the whole right front was rebuilt," Pesarik said.  

Several area businesses teamed up with B&D to get the car in road-ready shape.   

Replacement parts were donated by Columbia Ford Kia. Also, LKQ Corporation donated the wheels, The Tire Store in East Lyme provided four new tires, Advanced Auto Part in New London gave break pads and rotors, and Pennell's Auto Center of Uncasville donated emissions testing and free oil changes.   

The Rotary Club of Montville gave the couple $1,000 toward auto insurance.   

"We appreciate the long hours and sometimes crazy schedule that is the life of a service person," Rotary President Kim Navetta said.

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