WILTON – A Cushing School physical education teacher got a big surprise Wednesday when he left the building around lunch time and found his car had disappeared.

Brian Kelly, 48, of Wilton had parked his 2001 Ford Focus in the school’s lot Wednesday morning before heading in to teach classes, police Officer Bob Cole said. Around 11:45 a.m., Cole said, Kelly finished teaching at Cushing and left the building intending to drive to nearby Academy Hill school, where more classes awaited.

But the car was missing. Kelly’s wife, Joan Quinn, who teaches special education at Cushing, said her husband first sought her out, wondering if she’d taken the car and parked it elsewhere. No luck.

Then he called their kids, she said. Again, no luck. Someone told him they’d seen the car rolling away, Quinn said, but Kelly checked the embankment near the parking lot and couldn’t see the car.

So he called the police and reported it stolen.

Then, Quinn said, he went back outside, and discerned some tire tracks going across the icy drive.

He made his way across the icy lot and then across a driveway – on the other side of the lot from the gully he had checked. He looked down. Lo and behold, there was the car, Quinn said – in a steep wooded gully, about 20 feet down from the road.

“His car slid all the way across the road and then down the gully. It’s very steep and deep,” she said.

The Ford was left in gear, not in neutral, Cole said, but the parking lot where it was parked was extremely icy. Cole surmises the ice began to melt, which shifted the car and caused it to lose traction and slide all the way across the lot, down into the gully.

The fall caused about $5,000 damage to the trunk, back bumper and lights, side mirrors, and such.

“We have studded snow tires,” Quinn said. “It was kind of surprising. He certainly was shocked.” The road was subsequently sanded, she said.