Unfortunately, drivers sometimes find that their vehicles have been damaged through no fault of their own. And Andrew Sipowicz has been one of them, as he discovered in November 2018 that his parked red Ford Mustang had been involved in a hit-and-run incident. However, while Sipowicz was assessing what had happened to his car, he found a handwritten note by a sixth-grader.
A resident of Buffalo, New York, Sipowicz had grown up harboring a passion for one sport in particular: baseball. And in his younger years, he had impressed as a pitcher for his high-school team before going on to play at college level.
When it came to higher education, moreover, Sipowicz had applied for a place at Buffalo’s Canisius College. The institution – so named in honor of Dutch teacher St. Peter Canisius – was first established back in 1870. And, initially, the college had started out in one building; it’s gradually expanded since, though.
In fact, Canisius College now boasts over 30 buildings on its campus. And thankfully for Sipowicz, he would get to explore the Canisius grounds after the institution accepted his application. Even so, the Buffalo native had yet another dream that he wanted to realize.
You see, Sipowicz had always wanted to own a Ford Mustang – a vehicle he had fantasized about as a kid. And ahead of his college move, the student wanted to buy a car for himself – a desire that had caught the attention of his dad, John.
So, at that point, Sipowicz’s father made his son an intriguing deal. To wit, John said that he would help pay for the car if the student’s tuition fees ate up most of his scholarship funds. However, Sipowicz may not have predicted what would happen next.
Yes, a surprise greeted the student after he had returned home one day. Sitting in the garage was a 2012 Ford Mustang – a present from his parents. And after learning that the car belonged to him, the New York native had become overcome with emotion, he later revealed.
Then, following his admittance to Canisius, Sipowicz had joined the college baseball team and subsequently moved into an apartment with some of his teammates. And, together, they enjoyed a lot of success on the field; the Golden Griffins even emerged victorious during the 2018 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Baseball Tournament.
However, Sipowicz was dealt an unfortunate blow one afternoon in November 2018. While traveling down a road close to his apartment, one of the student’s roommates, Andrew Kneussle, caught a glimpse of something that set alarm bells ringing: he saw a school bus loitering very near to the red Mustang.
Understandably concerned for his friend’s beloved car, Kneussle then snapped a photo of the scene on his phone. After that, he sent the image to Sipowicz, who quickly responded. And from there, the baseball player asked his roommate to grab the bus driver’s attention in an attempt to find out what was happening.
As a result, Kneussle approached the bus and engaged in a conversation with the female driver. She insisted, however, that her vehicle hadn’t hit Sipowicz’s Mustang. Kneussle then passed the information back to the student – and that put Sipowicz’s mind at ease.
Despite those reassurances, though, Sipowicz wanted to check the car over himself. So, he duly headed over to the Mustang, knowing that he needed to move it anyway due to the area’s parking rules. But upon seeing the vehicle, he received a shock.
There was a significant dent on the left-hand side of the car – just above the headlights. Not only that, but some of the paintwork around the dent had been scratched off. And by that point, the culprit had already left, leaving the owner of the vehicle in a difficult spot.
However, Sipowicz then found a handwritten note left on the Mustang that explained exactly what had happened to the car. And in an act of gratitude, the student would later post a photo of the message to his Twitter page.
“If [you’re] wondering what [happened] to your car, Bus 449 hit [it],” said the note. “It stops here every day to drop me off at 5:00 p.m.” From there, the writer had penned a subheading that read, “What happened?” after which they had described the incident in full.
“[The school bus driver] was trying to pull off and hit the car,” the missive continued. “She hit and [ran]. She tried to [veer] over and squeeze [through] but couldn’t. [The driver then] actually squeezed [through], she made a dent, and I saw what happened. Sorry.”
But that wasn’t it, as the letter also provided a detailed description of the driver’s seat number, the name of the bus and a hand-drawn picture of the vehicle itself. “The bus that hit your car,” the author had appropriately scribbled above their artist’s rendition.
When it came to the identity of the note-writer, though, Sipowicz had been left none the wiser. You see, instead of revealing their identity, the author had simply signed, “A sixth-grader at Houghton Academy.” Regardless, that didn’t stop Sipowicz from praising the individual.
“Shout-out to the anonymous sixth-grader for saving me a couple thousand [dollars],” Sipowicz wrote alongside the photo of the letter. “Bus not drawn to scale.” And in time, the baseball player’s post would make waves across the internet.
Indeed, Sipowicz’s tweet ultimately went viral; it has since earned over 1.2 million likes and more than 260,000 retweets on the social media website. The post generated over 4,000 comments, too, with several Twitter users choosing to hail the sixth-grader’s actions. And as the story continued to grow in popularity, one of the author’s teachers caught a glimpse of the note.
After having discerned the identity of the student through her penmanship, the teacher contacted Sipowicz and provided him with some information about the sixth-grade girl. “Me and my family are so grateful,” the student told BBC News in November 2018 after he had discovered the name of the author. “We want to reward the girl somehow.”
Sipowicz had planned to visit Houghton Academy after the Thanksgiving break; by that point, however, the girl had already been rewarded by one of her teachers. “Proud teacher moment,” Nick Kiser wrote on Twitter in November 2018. “One of my students wasn’t afraid to be a ‘snitch’ and did the good deed. No Thanksgiving homework!”
Meanwhile, Houghton Academy’s vice principal revealed that the student in question would be handed a special citizenship award for her “outstanding leadership.” And a spokeswoman for Buffalo Public Schools also praised the youngster’s conduct. In November 2018 she said to ABC affiliate WKBW, “Kudos to the sixth-grader. We always tell our students if they see something to say something.”
Sipowicz was still keen to meet the girl, however, and he would explain why in a November 2018 interview with the BBC. “I just want to thank her so much for being so courageous and doing the right thing when it would have been easier to go home and forget the whole thing,” he said.
In the meantime, Sipowicz was able to contact school bus company First Student thanks to the sixth-grader’s information. And upon learning what had happened to Sipowicz’s Mustang, a representative then offered the student an apology and a few promises. The company also released a statement on the matter to WKBW.
“Yesterday, First Student jumped into action, [and] we met with [Sipowicz] to review the damage,” the statement read. “We will cover the full cost [of repair] and [the] loaner. We try to do the right thing in every instance.” After that, the company went on to condemn their driver’s actions that day.
“The driver did not follow [their] training, and that’s clear,” the statement continued. “We take that very seriously. The actions of the driver are contrary to what we train our drivers to do.” From there, First Student then praised the young girl for speaking up before revealing the driver’s ultimate fate.
“We are very impressed by the sixth-grader and her actions. We are [also] in the process of terminating the driver based on this incident,” the company explained. Meanwhile, as Sipowicz’s story continued to gain traction on social media, someone else decided to share a very similar tale of their own.
Twitter user Dima had responded to Sipowicz’s tweet after she had experienced a tough moment the previous week. Her vehicle, too, had been damaged in a hit-and-run incident, and Dima had also received a note – although in this case it was from someone who had called themselves “a good neighbor.”
“Hello,” read the letter. “I was sitting on my balcony and saw a guy hit your car. Indian (eastern) descent. Black hair, wearing glasses. He parked elsewhere and ran across the street.” It continued, “Your left rear is damaged. He drives a gray Hyundai Elantra. Go get him.”
After sharing a picture of that note on her Twitter account, Dima then replied to Sipowicz. “Shout out to all the people that see other people do hit-and-runs and leave detailed notes,” she wrote in the accompanying message. “This was left on my car last week.”
Unlike the unfortunate college student, though, Dima had quickly realized that she knew the culprit personally. “The person that hit my car was a co-worker,” the Twitter user added. “That was a fun conversation the next day!” And Dima’s post found a large audience on social media, too.
Indeed, Dima’s tweet would ultimately receive close to 10,000 likes and nearly 450 retweets on the social media platform. However, Dima and Sipowicz aren’t the first people to have shared photos of notes left on their cars after bumps.
In a similar incident to Dima’s, the owner of a Toyota Yaris had received a note from a concerned citizen. “We saw the jacka** who hit the left side of your car with his pick-up truck,” read the letter, which was shared on the website Ranker. “He was trying to park behind you, but he’s an idiot. He took off without leaving his info, so here’s his plate number. Happy hunting!”
But not everyone who has done damage to someone else’s car is quite so courteous, as another motorist once found out. “Yeah so, I hit your car,” the anonymous message they found said. “Somebody saw me do it. Therefore, I am writing this note to make it look like I am writing down my info. Sorry.”
It didn’t end there, though, as the mocking letter continued. “Uh, yeah,” the writer added. “Blah, blah, blah. They’re still watching [me]. Oh they’re gone. Later. P.S. My bad.” Thankfully for Sipowicz, he had had someone altogether more helpful on his side when his Mustang was hit. And in the end, he managed to come face-to-face with his sixth-grade hero in December 2018.
After that encounter, Sipowicz went back on Twitter to talk about it before sharing some interesting news with his followers. “I was able to meet the brave sixth-grader [on] Tuesday and thanked her for what she did,” he wrote. “The mother of the student who left the note has created a GoFundMe.”
It turns out that the young girl is an aspiring artist, in fact, and so her mom, Tocarra Lewis, is looking to secure her future. “As a child, my daughter has been taught [that] right is right and wrong is wrong,” Lewis wrote on the crowdfunding website. “This fund will help towards an arts scholarship to an arts institution.”
“It will teach our communities that by doing what’s right comes reward,” Lewis added. “Using freedom of expression, we will educate our children across the nation in doing what’s right – even when no one is watching – through art.” She also revealed that some of her girl’s work would be seen in Buffalo throughout December 2018.
And Lewis’ daughter had certainly reaped the rewards from her good deed – thanks in part to Sipowicz. “People should know about this [story],” he told The Buffalo News in November 2018. “I mean, it stinks what happened [to my car]. But I’m just extremely grateful for this kid telling the truth.”