When an instructor at Flywheel’s Highland Park location opened the trunk of her car this morning to retrieve her cycling shoes, she discovered a stowaway.
According to an incident report provided by the Highland Park Department of Public Safety, the instructor arrived at Flywheel, in the 4500 block of Oak Lawn Avenue, at 7 a.m., 10 minutes after she’d left her apartment. When she opened the trunk of her Toyota Camry, she was shocked to discover a grown man “laying in a somewhat fetal-style position,” the report says.
The instructor told Park Cities People that it looked as if the stowaway had been using her swim buoy as a pillow. She told police she thought she’d woken him up, or, at the very least, startled him.
Understandably, the instructor was startled herself. She screamed and started running toward Flywheel’s front door. Her screams attracted the attention of a witness who saw the stowaway climbing out of the instructor’s car. The witness started moving toward the stowaway, who scampered across Oak Lawn Avenue and ran down the alley between an office building and an apartment building. The witness pursued the stowaway until he jumped a fence.
“I’m just glad [the witness] saw him,” the instructor said in a phone interview this afternoon. “Otherwise, nobody would believe me.”
The witness told police the stowaway was white, standing 5-9 or 5-10, and weighing 165 to 180 pounds. He was wearing a dark blue cap, a dark blue sweatshirt or sweater, blue pants, and white shoes. The witness does not believe the stowaway is homeless, as he did not appear to be disheveled. The instructor said the witness told her that he thinks the stowaway is a young man, because he was so quick.
“Of course, when you’re scared, you’re going to run pretty fast,” the instructor said.
The instructor told police she always locks her Camry, but she believes she may have forgotten to do so in this instance, as there were no signs of forced entry. In trying to determine how long the stowaway had been inside her trunk, the instructor said she knows she opened it on Saturday and saw no one in it. But she made two trips between her apartment and the Equinox gym on Oak Lawn on Sunday, and she didn’t check the trunk that day.
“He was in my car while I drove to work!” the instructor said. She was still incredulous but laughing at the ridiculous nature of her predicament. “I took this guy on a little field trip!”
The only property reported missing from the Camry was $25 cash that had been in the instructor’s wallet, which she had left in her center console overnight. She’s not sure whether he crawled into the trunk through the back seat or opened the trunk, got in, and then closed it on himself. She’s also mystified about when and where the stowaway removed the Costco boxes that were in her trunk on Saturday.
The only warning she had that anything was amiss was the odd odor inside the Camry.
“Of course, after I saw him, it made sense,” she said with a laugh. “I wasn’t smelling my car; I was smelling the person inside my car!”