KANSAS CITY, Mo. - For a family teetering on the brink of financial ruin, a run-in with a driver who may have been intoxicated could be the last step before homelessness.
"By Monday we would have to either have a car to get away from here or we'll be sitting out there on 350 Highway with our kids and our luggage," Shawn Breakfield explained on Wednesday, packed into a dingy hotel room with his wife and two young children.
The Breakfields had been living hand-to-mouth since June when Shawn, an electrician, lost his job after his battered car broke down. The family lived in parks and hotel rooms until they were able to buy another car , a 1984 Cutlass they loved so much they named her Brenda. Shawn was working temporary jobs, and the family was ensconced in a motel room.
But on Sunday, Breakfield was driving near Arrowhead Stadium, when he says a driver who was likely intoxicated ran a stop sign and slammed into him.
"A red truck just came out of nowhere, out of the middle of the traffic and slammed right into me," he said. "It spinned me around and spinned me around and I hit, like, three other cars. And our car was completely balled up."
His totaled car was towed away with many of the family's possessions still in the trunk. Shawn got a ride home and with the other driver's insurance information, planned to rent a car to get himself to a temporary job he hoped to start Tuesday.
But despite plans to bill the car to the other driver, the Breakfields were turned away by Enterprise Rent-a-Car. They had no major credit cards and no electric bills to prove residency, having been mostly homeless since June. The rental car company said it's a normal policy.
"They need to use a credit card – or, if they are using a money order or a debit card, a utility bill is required at a minimum. We also would typically inquire, as part of our normal process, whether the consumer had liability insurance," Enterprise Holdings spokesperson Laura Bryant said in an e-mail to 41 Action News.
"We're just lost on what to do now," Breakfield's wife LaKrystal said.
The electricians union paid for another week in the motel for Shawn and his family, but on Monday they'll be homeless again, without even a car to sleep in.
"It's been really hard. It almost kind of feels like I'm down in a hole looking up," Shawn said. "It seems like there's nowhere to start."