'It drove better than a flat,' says driver who didn't know tire fell off during snowstorm

The driver of this Ford Explorer was unaware that a tire fell off while he was driving in Tuesday’s snowstorm in Atkinson and Plaistow. 

PLAISTOW — Anthony Smerdon insists he had no idea that a rear wheel fell off the 2008 Ford Explorer he was driving during Tuesday’s snowstorm.

Unaware that he was driving with only three tires, Smerdon was finally stopped by a Plaistow police officer who noticed the problem.

Smerdon said he thought something might be dragging, but the SUV didn’t drive like it was missing a tire.

“It wasn’t loud. It drove better than a flat,” he said.

The unusual mishap was reported around 6 p.m. when Plaistow police learned from a cellphone caller who reported that he saw a vehicle lose one of its rear tires on Main Street in Atkinson near Meditation Lane and continued to drive.

Police said the SUV continued to travel south toward Plaistow while Atkinson police headed to the area. Plaistow officers were also alerted to watch out for the vehicle.

Smerdon was spotted by police at about 6:05 p.m. and stopped on Route 121 in Plaistow, near the Atkinson town line.

Police have estimated that Smerdon drove anywhere from one to two miles with the missing tire, which was found on Main Street in the area of Leroy Avenue and was returned to the Atkinson Police Department a short time later.

“Safety is obviously our No. 1 concern. Between last night’s weather and driving on only three wheels, any number of things could have happened. We’re certainly glad that no one was hurt or that the vehicle was not involved in any sort of accident,” Plaistow police Capt. Brett Morgan said.

Smerdon said he doesn’t own the vehicle. He was using the Explorer to pick up the owner’s son.

The vehicle just recently had both rear tires replaced and other work done. He said the mechanic has already apologized for the tire problem, which was unintentional.

“Genuinely it did not feel like it was a tire issue. I know it sounds ridiculous, but unless you have experienced it in all the snow we were having, you have no idea if anyone else would have known either,” Smerdon said.

The vehicle was towed from the scene.