New Dad Gets New Car After His Bursts Into Flames in Hospital Parking Garage

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Well, that was certainly enough excitement for one holiday season.

Within 48 hours, Travis Trent became a father for the first time and watched in horror as his beloved BMW burst into flames in the parking structure of the Washington hospital where his girlfriend was recovering in the maternity ward.

He had been sitting in his car with the heater running when it froze up and the blower motor "made a screeching sound," Trent told Tuesday. He turned the ignition off.

"I figured something bad was about to happen," said the 24-year-old heating and air conditioning technician. "Then smoke started to come out of the dashboard." When he opened the glove box, he said he could see orange flames.

So he hightailed it up to the roof of the garage, where his smoldering car wouldn't endanger other vehicles. He popped the hood, pulled out his girlfriend's makeup kit and the baby car seat, then stood back as his 2000 BMW 528 went up in a blaze of glory.

"I probably had a minute from the time it started smoking until it burst into flames," Trent said. As it turned out, he didn't have to wait long for his thoughtfulness in moving his burning car was rewarded beyond anything he could have imagined.

His brother works for a car dealership. When Nathan Craig, the owner of Sunset Auto Wholesale in Tacoma, heard about Trent's loss, he decided to donate a new vehicle to the new dad.

It just so happened that Craig had the same BMW model on his lot. It was also the same year and the same color as Trent's ruined ride.

His brother and others at the auto business staged an elaborate ruse, telling Trent to stop by and pick up some baby gifts. Reporters had been invited to hear Trent's fire story, they said.

But when Trent arrived, he was handed a set of keys. He was overcome with emotion.

"I'm overly grateful. I would never have thought this would happen," he said. 

His daughter, born on Christmas Day, is named Kennedy and she is "healthy and happy and beautiful," said her proud father.

Sometimes, when he's tooling around town in his new car, which is the twin of his old car, he thinks he dreamed the whole fire thing.

"It's perfect. It's a good car. But it kind of messes with me ... because it's the same exact car," he said.


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