By Eric Stevick Herald Writer
As a little girl, Cassieann Levee savored the time she would spend on calls in her dad’s tow truck.
She enjoyed his company and driving around searching for stranded vehicles marooned along roads and highways.
Over the years, she saw plenty of crumpled metal at car wrecks and even a few teeth left in dashboards.
For a while, she hoped to follow in her father’s footsteps with a tow truck of her own.
Yet, in the back of her mind, she envisioned taking it a step further.
She wanted to fix what was broken, to make what’s marred and mangled like new again.
These days, that’s exactly what the high school senior is doing.
Levee, 17, splits time between South Whidbey High School and the auto body and collision repair shop at the Sno-Isle Tech Skills Center. She’s in her second year at the popular vocational school for juniors and seniors in south Everett.
When the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office inquired about having students fix an ATV that had been in storage for years, Sno-Isle body shop teacher Shawn Fitzpatrick immediately thought of Levee, the only girl in his morning class.
“She is very, very self motivated,” Fitzpatrick said. “With every job, she gets to work and she just goes. She’s all over it and the quality of work is excellent.”
The 2001 Honda Rancher was stolen out of the Stanwood area in September 2005, sheriff’s Sgt. Todd Swenson said.
It was recovered a few months later, damaged and repainted, on the Tulalip Indian Reservation along with three other ATVs, a travel trailer and a cargo trailer.
By then, insurance had paid off the quad’s owner.
When the sheriff’s office contacted the company to report the vehicle had been found, it was told it could keep the wreck.
For nearly six years, the ugly ATV sat in county sheriff’s department storage.
Swenson was asked to figure out what to do with it. His research led him to Sno-Isle. Fitzpatrick thought it would be a worthwhile project. Deputy Sgt. Monte Beaton, who serves as Darrington’s police chief, was in for a pleasant surprise when he went to help pick it up last week.
“I can’t believe what it looks like,” Beaton said. “She just did an outstanding job. It’s obvious she took a lot of pride in her work.”
Levee stripped and sanded off the haphazard aerosal-can paint job. Somebody tried to create an olive drab camouflage pattern to disguise that it had been stolen. She painstakingly restored the machine to its original bright red gleam.
The ATV is due for some decals before it goes into service patrolling the Whitehorse Trail between Arlington and Darrington.
Levee watched as deputies loaded the quad last week from the school’s auto body shop into the bed of a pickup truck.
Fitzpatrick said his student gets emotionally attached to each restoration project she works on.
Her reward, however, is in the reaction of others.
“I don’t always want to keep it,” she said. “I would rather have someone see what I have done.”
Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; firstname.lastname@example.org.