Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

Best wishes for a prosperous year in 2009 from all of us at Towing & Recovery Footnotes!

Shots Fired At TX Repo Truck Driver

Here's the news story:
SOUTH BEXAR COUNTY -- Tuesday night, a man in south Bexar County is under arrest. He's accused of firing shots at a tow truck being used to repossess his girlfriend's pick up.

Bexar County Sheriff's deputies say the tow truck driver had orders from the bank to seize the woman's pickup. He pulled into a driveway at a home on South Jett road, near Hwy 16 in south Bexar County.

Several people came out of the house and confronted the tow truck driver. During the argument, deputies say a man in his 30s pulled out a handgun and fired several shots at the tow truck’s tires.

No one was hurt and the ford pickup was eventually hauled off. The man accused of shooting at the tow truck is charged with deadly conduct with a firearm.

Bexar County Sheriff's deputies say this isn't the first case of its kind here.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Zip's 2008 Heavy Duty Truck of the Year Winner

Here's the Zip's press release:

NEW HAMPTON, Iowa, December 30, 2008-Cardinal Towing Service, Inc., of Brooklyn Park, Minn. has been crowned the winner of the Zip’s Owners Club 2008 Heavy Duty Truck of the Year Award. The winning truck is a 2008 Peterbilt 367 Century 1075S Rotator SDU/4 built for Cardinal Towing Service and owner Denny Cardinal.

Cardinal’s Century 1075S 75 ton, three-stage Rotator has an aluminum modular body, dual 60,000 lb. planetary two-speed winches, dual 35,000 lb. belly drag winches and dual 20,000 lb. turret drag winches. It is one of the first rotators built with this six-winch configuration. In addition, it is equipped with hydraulic front and rear outriggers, radio proportional controls, handheld lanyard, 48” tunnel toolbox, galvanized double panel doors, SDU/4 heavy duty three-stage underlift with 17,000 lb. lift capacity at 143.5” extended, low profile crossbar, low profile fork holders, eight pairs of cast steel forks, custom tool and attachment placement, and more.

“This is of the toughest trucks around,” said Denny Cardinal. “We know it can handle just about anything we can throw at it.”

“Everyone knows that Zip’s is the place to go for the best new and used towing equipment,” he added. “It’s the fit and finish and the service after the sale that sets them apart from other distributors.”

Votes were cast online at for three months to select three Heavy Duty Truck of the Year finalists. In addition to Cardinal Towing Service, other finalists were Topel’s Truck Center of Lake Mills, Wis. ; and Beaupre’s Inc. of Kankakee, Ill. The Missouri Tow Truck Association (MTTA) selected the winner.

Cardinal Towing Service, Inc. was presented with the coveted Zip’s Owners Club Truck of the Year Award. In recognition of the assistance from the MTTA, Zip’s has made a $500 donation in the association’s name to the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum’s Survivor’s Fund.

“Every heavy duty truck Zip’s builds, bold or basic, is always quality,” says Paul Rottinghaus, president of Zip’s. “During the contest, it’s nice to see which trucks are most popular and stand out from the rest.”

Votes are currently being taken at for the Zip’s Owner’s Club 2008 Medium Duty Truck of the Year. You can vote by visiting the site and clicking on the Cast Your Vote link.

Earlier this year, Prairieland Service Center of Sun Prairie, Wis. received the 2008 Zip’s Car Carrier of the Year Award for its 21-foot Century Aluminum Car Carriers, and Don’s Towing Service of Decorah, Iowa, received the 2008 Zip’s Light Duty Truck of the Year Award for its Chevy K30 4x4 Vulcan 882.

Based in New Hampton, Iowa, Zip’s makes you the towing leader with superior service and the best and largest selection of tow trucks, car carriers, parts and accessories.

Also in MA, 'Move Over' Bill Signed Into Law

Here's the press release from MA's Statewide Towing Association:

On December 22, 2008, Governor Patrick signed Senate No. 2103, An Act Relative to Operating a Motor Vehicle When Approaching Stationary Emergency Vehicles, into law. The passage of the “Move Over Law” will protect roadside service workers and public safety officials on our highways. The law will go into effect in 90 days.

The legislation requires motorists to move over one traffic lane when approaching a stationary emergency roadside vehicle if it is safe to do so. If the volume of vehicles on the roadway does not allow for a safe lane shift, then the motorist is required to reduce their speed to a reasonable and safe level for road conditions. Violators will be faced with a ticket up to $100.00.

Statewide Towing Association, Inc., advocated for the passage of this law. With many incidents over the past years involving tow truck operators passage of this bill was a priority for the 2007-2008 legislative session. In 2004 STA began working with the legislature on this issue. In the coming year, we will work to inform the motoring public of this new law and the necessary protection it provides those who work to keep the roadways clear and travel as safe as possible.

The Statewide Towing Association provides training and education, driver certification and safety awareness for the industry and employees. As the second oldest such organization in the country, the Statewide Towing Association is considered one of the leaders in the United States.

For more information about our association, visit

Here's the story from

Dover - State Sen. Jim Timilty, D-Walpole, has announced that Governor Deval Patrick recently signed Senate No. 2103, An Act Relative to Operating a Motor Vehicle When Approaching Stationary Emergency Vehicles, into law. The passage of the so-called “Move Over” Bill brings the commonwealth in line with 43 other states by protecting roadside service workers and public safety officials on our highways.

The legislation, sponsored by Timilty, requires motorists to move over one traffic lane when approaching a stationary emergency roadside vehicle if it is safe to do so. If the volume of vehicles on the roadway does not allow for a safe lane shift, then the motorist is required to reduce their speed to a reasonable and safe level for road conditions.

“I am very proud to have been a part of the passage of this lifesaving legislation. State Police officers and roadside assistance workers are out there at every hour of every day, often with less than 3 feet of room between their back and oncoming traffic.” said Timilty. “While many may consider this a matter of common courtesy, it has become far too uncommon and quite simply, people’s lives are at risk because of it.”

AAA Southern New England and the State Police Association of Massachusetts were instrumental partners in advocating for the passage of this law. With recent accidents involving state troopers and AAA tow truck drivers, both organizations had the passage of this bill on the top of their priority list for the 2007-2008 legislative session. In the coming year, they will work in collaboration to inform citizens of this new law and the vital protection it provides those who work to make highway travel as safe as possible.

“The commonwealth has taken an important step toward ensuring the public’s safety with this new law,” said Rick Brown, president of the State Police Association of Massachusetts. “Troopers across the commonwealth are grateful for the added protection that has the potential to save the lives of those on the side of the roadways responding to an emergency.”

“This bill is a tribute to our first responders; police, emergency medical services, tow truck drivers and firefighters. These people put their lives literally on the line 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to help all motorists. AAA Southern New England thanks Senator Timilty for his leadership on this issue,” said Art Kinsman, director of Government Affairs for AAA Southern New England.

The bill moved through the final stages of the legislative process during informal sessions of the Senate and House, and was approved by Governor Patrick 15 days before the close of the 2007-2008 session on Jan. 6, 2009.

Vintage Tow Trucks from OkTOWberfest in MA

Click here to check out the pics at CarDomain blog.

Towing In Top 10 Recession-Proof Industries?

According to this article posted at, "Motor Vehicle Towing" is number nine on the list of 50 recession-proof industries according to U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, right up there with residential trade contractors (#1), medicinal & biological products (#3), and school bus transportation (#6).

Here's the info:

9) Motor vehicle towing

It’s not alltogether clear why motor vehicle towing grew 6%, 2%, and 4% during 1990, 2001, and 2007, but there are several plausible hypotheses. One is that people spend less money on vehicle maintenance when cash is tight, leading to more breakdowns and thus the need for towing. Another is that high anxiety and stress levels of the masses lead to more accidents, thereby necessitating more towing services. Whatever the case, this industry has grown robustly during the 3 recent recessions.

FL Towing Company Manager Charged

Here's the story:
A Cape Coral towing company manager has been charged with 16 counts of grand theft auto.

Scott Stephen Friga, 34, manager of R/S Towing and Recovery Inc., is accused of illegally towing cars and then charging the owners to get their vehicles back.

Friga was arrested following an investigation prompted by a column written by Melanie Payne, a staff writer for The News-Press, said Connie Barron, police spokeswoman.

People who had their vehicles towed called Payne to complain about the company.

Friga was arrested Saturday on warrants charging him with the grand theft auto counts.

He was later released after paying $24,000 bail.

On The Road With A MI Tow Truck Driver

There's good reason why a lot of towers call snow "white gold" - tons of business AND great PR opportunities! Here's a story from the Lansing State Journal:
While all the snow Mother Nature dumped on the Lansing area over the past week had many people slowing down, Wayne Winton has had to pick up the pace.

Winton is a dispatcher and wrecker driver for Lansing's Northside Service, and over the past week he's been working 12- to 14-hour days pulling dozens of cars out of ditches, giving jump-starts and just generally unsticking stuck vehicles.

Despite the busy shifts and long hours, he said there's "an awesome feeling in being able to help somebody."

"Especially like if it's an older person and they can't really do a lot for themselves," said Winton, who turns 30 on Christmas Day. "I got people who call me who I've jump-started - I gave them my personal cell phone number and they call me whenever they're in trouble."

And Winton could have plenty of more chances soon to help out drivers in a bind.

The National Weather Service is forecasting that the rain Lansing is currently receiving will turn into snow sometime later this afternoon or evening.

Walt Felver, a meteorologist with the Weather Service in Grand Rapids said that a cold front will move across lower Michigan later today, refreezing much of the slush currently on the roads.

One to 2 inches of new snow could accumulate today, he said.

Tow Truck Santa in FL

Here's the story:
click for larger image
Callaway, Fla:

Children in Callaway get a very special wake up call Saturday morning, as Santa makes the rounds right by their front doors.

For the last five years, Gulf County Wrecker Service has driven Santa Claus around the town to throw goodies to the kids and wish everyone “Merry Christmas”.

Kids could wave to Santa right from their own front lawn. It’s an event neighborhood children look forward to during the holidays.

This was the first “Pop White Memorial Santa Run”, named in honor of a member of the community.

Santa says there’s one reason they do this every year.

“The smile on the kids’ faces, that’s what it’s all about. There’s nothing like the smile on a child’s face when he sees Santa Claus. It beams, and there’s no light in the universe that can outshine that beam,” says Santa.

The wrecker service says they hope to carry on the tradition for many years to come.

FL Tow Truck Driver Beaten

Here's the 12/16 story:
A tow truck driver told authorities one of his customers hit him over the head with a flashlight after paying for his tow, according to a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office report.

The victim said on Thursday, he towed the vehicle of Jose Rivera-Garcia, 29, to the 5800 block of 15th Street East after he called for help.

After the tow, the driver asked for $80, which he said Rivera-Garcia paid. When the two truck driver turned around, he said Rivera-Garcia hit him over the head with a flashlight and went for the money.

The men fought and the truck driver escaped to call 911. Deputies captured Garcia-River nearby and arrested him on an aggravated battery charge. He was being held in the Manatee County jail without bond.

WA's 2008 Tow Person of the Year

Congrats to Daryl Wilson, General Manager of Airport Towing! Here's the post on Airport Towing's site:

Our General Manager earned Washington State’s Tow Person of the Year Award, presented by the Towing and Recovery Association of Washington. Airport Towing GM Daryl Wilson has been an integral part of the company for nearly 9 years, dedicating himself and his time to the family business. He began his career in towing as an entry level driver with no prior experience in the industry and is now key to the success of our day to day operations. We applaud Daryl for his achievement and thank all TRAW members for recognizing him as an exemplary person within the towing industry.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Luciano is Southwest Tow Operators' New Trainer

Here's the press release:
World renowned towing expert, Tom Luciano, has joined the Southwest Tow Operator team as Training Consultant. Tom has been in towing-related businesses for over 30 years. He has personally trained thousands of tow operators and his classes are in great demand everywhere he goes. Tom travels internationally to conduct training seminars and consult with towing concerns all over the world.

In addition to his full time job with Miller Industries, Tom is a member of many professional organizations, including the Towing and Recovery Association of America, Society of Automotive Engineers Towability Committee, E.S.T.R.A., New York Governors Council of Towers, and the IITR Board of Directors. He has been awarded the TRAA Distinguished Service Award, The American Towmen Recovery Master Award, and is a member of the Friends of Towing Hall of Fame, and was inducted into the Towing Hall of Fame.

“We are very excited to have Tom Luciano as our Training Consultant. It is an honor and a privilege to work with someone of Tom’s caliber in developing our towing education program. His knowledge is invaluable and any time you can tap into expertise like his and share it, you have something very special. With Tom on board, we now have the staff to assure our members and towers across the nation the best training programs available.” Dan Messina, President, STO.

Big Lift U Coming in June in NC

Here's the press release:


with generous support from




(Heavy Lifting University)

Saturday & Sunday, June 13 & 14, 2009

CCCC Emergency Services Training Center

3000 Airport Rd.

Sanford, NC 27330

Travel if you dare, Hell’s Highway as you face very challenging yet realistic scenarios including, concrete mixer vs., smaller vehicle in ditch, fully loaded TT trailer overturn onto an auto, full size RR tanker underride, 20,000+ pound mixer drum balanced on an auto, inverted patient removal using air cushions, and multiple overturn/underride situations! The focus will be the effective use of air bag rescue systems (high, medium, & low pressure) and strut/cribbing support. During this training you learn how to safely move several thousand pound vehicles/objects and how to stabilize them. Are you ready for serious extrication training?

The featured presenters are among some of the best available, including:

*Kevin Cieciorka, Wreckmaster 6/7A Grad & Hvy. Recovery Operator

*Billy Leach, Jr., Developer of BIG RIG RESCUE™, Wreckmaster 6/7

Grad, Crosby Rigging Trainer

*Nigel Letherby, Paratech, Inc. National Product Specialist

*Capt. Robert Morris, FDNY Rescue Co. #1, Special Ops Command

*Dwayne Smith, Wreckmaster 6/7A Grad & Hvy. Recovery Operator

This program will feature two intensive days combining classroom and HANDS-ON learning. An extensive reference handout will be provided to each attendee.

The hands-on training offers challenges to small teams in a time compressed format, similar to everyday responses. It will be both mentally and physically challenging! Each team is expected to develop a plan of action and execute that plan within a specified time period. Should the initial plan prove unsuccessful, the team is expected to develop an alternate and continue the mission. Careful planning, critical thinking, utilization of classroom learning, and prompt plan execution will be paramount for success. This is beyond entry level training, and attendees should possess previous knowledge and experience in vehicle extrication.
DON’T DELAY! This course will fill quickly!

For registration information, please contact:

Landis Phillips, Emergency Services Training Director

Central Carolina Community College

Emergency Services Training Center

3000 Airport Rd.

Sanford, NC 27330

Telephone: 919.776.5601


Fax: 919.776.3403

Aircraft Recovery Training Scheduled

Aircraft Recovery Solutions will be holding its second U.S. training class in Boise, ID from March 12 to March 15. The course is designed for towing operators who are interested in the multi-million dollar market of aircraft recovery and transportation. Students are taught how to get the job, how to do the job and how to get paid for the job.

Enrollment is limited to the first 17 students. Call 1-800-376-7114 or visit for more information.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mom Charged In Child/Towing Case in VA

Here's The Free Lance-Star story:

The mother of a 2-year-old girl who was towed away from a Stafford residence Sunday afternoon has been charged with felony child endangerment.

Savannah Mayhew, 22, of Spotsylvania was arrested last night, according to Stafford Sheriff’s spokesman Bill Kennedy.

Meanwhile, one of the two Patriot Towing employees also charged with felony child endangerment in the case has been charged with another crime.

Jason Michael Bryant, 25, of Spotsylvania was charged by state police this week with failing to register as a sex offender.

Bryant, who was driving the tow truck Sunday, is accused of not properly registering earlier this year. Sources said he failed to list his correct address.

Bryant was taken to the Rappahannock Regional Jail for the second time this week. He posted a $2,500 bond and was released.

Bryant is listed on the state police sex offender registry. According to the court records, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor sexual battery charge in 2003 in Loudoun County.

He had been charged with aggravated sexual battery, but the charge was reduced.

Bryant got a suspended sentence on the misdemeanor, but later served a 12-month jail sentence after violating his probation, court records show.

Jason Kelly, the owner of Patriot Towing, said he knew nothing about Bryant being a sex offender.

But Kelly said that had nothing to do with Sunday’s arrests, which he maintains are unjust.

According to the Stafford Sheriff's Office, a Mazda Protégé was double-parked Sunday afternoon about 12:45 p.m. when it was spotted by the towing company employees in the 1200 block of Thomas Jefferson Place in southern Stafford.

Mayhew told police that she had went into her mother’s home for about five minutes, but the car was gone when she came back outside.

The Patriot employees called the Sheriff’s Office about four minutes after the mother did. Kelly said the employees didn’t realize there was a child in the car until getting back to the impound lot.

Keith Epps: 540/374-5404

OR's Retriever Towing Gives Back Fee In Domestic Assault Investigation

Judging from the comments associated with this particular story, some people are pretty ticked in general with Retriever Towing. But, I say, "Kudos!" to owner Gary Coe for addressing the issue and going further with a donation to a shelter for battered women and children.

Here's the story from The Oregonian:

Tow company officials reversed course Wednesday, promising to refund a "drop fee" charged to a domestic assault victim who couldn't move her double-parked car until police completed their investigation and returned her keys.

Gary Coe, owner of Retriever Towing, said the company would give the Wilsonville woman a check for $165 -- the amount she paid in cash Monday night to have the driver release her car at the Berkshire Court Apartments.

Coe also pledged to make a $500 donation to Rafael House of Portland, a shelter for battered women and children.

He said Retriever has received more than 600 complaints on its company Web site and "dozens of calls from people upset with us" since the incident came to light. Retriever has more than 2,000 contract accounts, patrolling parking lots to make sure fire lanes and emergency access routes remain open.

Coe said the tow truck driver's account of the event differs from that of the Clackamas County sheriff's deputy who responded to the initial domestic-assault call.

"I'm not sure the driver made a bad call here -- he may have," Coe said. "But we are refunding the money because the management company at the apartment complex asked us to."

Mark Harris, portfolio manager for Guardian Management, which manages the apartment complex, said he generally has been pleased with Retriever's service.

"But I told them that once an officer identified himself and explained that the vehicle was involved in a criminal investigation, the driver should have backed away," Harris said. "Sometimes common sense has to take over."

Harris also said he was evaluating whether to cancel Retriever's contract.

Meanwhile, Travis Talbot, vice president of operations for Windermere Cronin & Caplan Realty Group, said he was canceling the company's contract with Retriever, saying the "lack of compassion for the victim in extenuating circumstances is reprehensible."

According to sheriff's office reports, a 25-year-old woman called police at 8:54 p.m. Monday, reporting that her live-in boyfriend had hit her. The woman was calling from her grandmother's apartment in the same complex, where she drove after she bolted from her own apartment. Seeing no empty parking spaces, she left her car double-parked in a fire lane with the four-way flashers going.

Deputies arrived minutes later to investigate and arrested Patrick James Apodaca, 25, on an accusation of fourth-degree assault.

When deputies returned to the grandmother's apartment, the woman's car was hooked up to a tow truck and the woman was frantic.

Deputy Wes Hall said he explained to the driver that the woman was a domestic-assault victim and that she couldn't move the car because she had given him the keys. He said that after making a phone call the driver declined to release the car unless she paid the fee.

-- Rick Bella:

CA Tow Truck Driver Laid to Rest

Here's the story from the Fresno Bee:

MERCED -- It may not have been a typical funeral procession: dozens of tow trucks trailing behind a family in mourning.

But for Tim Schroeder, it seemed a fitting tribute.

Hundreds of people turned out Wednesday to honor the Atwater tow-truck driver who died on the job last week. At his funeral in Merced, family and friends remembered Schroeder as a hard worker, an avid outdoorsman and a playful, loving father.
Schroeder, 46, died Saturday while responding to an early-morning call along Highway 99. He was preparing to connect a car to the back of his tow truck when a big rig drifted onto the shoulder and struck him.

The big-rig driver, 58-year-old John Hamersley of Sacramento, isn't believed to have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the CHP has said. It still hasn't been determined whether he'll face any criminal charges.

Born in Ceres and the middle of three brothers, Schroeder graduated from Merced High School. He married his wife, Suzanne, in 1985.

They went on to have two children. Schroeder's teenage daughter, Sarah, said she remembers her dad as "the best father I could ask for."

He had worked at Performance Towing in Merced for about five months. He's the second Performance employee to be killed in the last two weeks. Randall Armendariz Sr., 41, was fatally shot Nov. 24.

Police believe he died after confronting a thief who stole one of Performance's service vehicles.

After Armendariz's death, Schroeder spent days gathering donations to benefit his co-worker's family.

"It's been real hard on everybody here," said Jason Casado, who worked with Schroeder. "To lose two guys so close together is just ... we're hurting."

Jeff Hunter, executive director of the California Tow Truck Association, said Schroeder is the second tow-truck driver in the state to be hit in the last month while responding to a call.

At least three California tow-truck drivers have died on scene this year, he said.

"It's an incredibly dangerous occupation," Hunter said. "A lot of people don't realize that."

There's only so much drivers and tow companies can do to minimize that danger, he added. "It's really unfortunate. In cases like this one, there's just nothing you can do.

"That risk is always going to come with the territory."

The reporter can be reached at or (209) 385-2477.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

OK Tow Truck Driver Killed By Semi

More somber news. Our condolences to the family and acquaintances of 61-year old Gale Ray Pemberton of Blackwell, OK, who died last night after being struck by a tractor-trailer.

Here's the story from

BLACKWELL — A Blackwell man died after a tractor-trailer struck him while he was helping a motorist on a highway near Blackwell in late Tuesday, authorities said.

Gale Ray Pemberton, 61, died at a Blackwell hospital.

Paul Dukich, 68, of Witchita, Kan., was driving a tractor-trailer south on Interstate 35 about 3 miles south of Blackwell when the rig changed lanes and struck Pemberton about 10 p.m. Tuesday, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. Pemberton, a wrecker service driver, was out of his vehicle helping a motorist.

Dukich was not hurt. He was wearing a seat belt, troopers said.

OR Assault Victim Can't Avoid Towing Fee

Yeah, I know the tow truck driver was within his rights, but..sigh... just doesn't seem like the best PR angle for a section of the industry that's been in the news a lot lately, especially around Portland, OR.

Here's the story from The Oregonian:

WILSONVILLE, Ore. (AP) — Neither a bloody face nor a deputy's plea could stop a tow-truck driver from doing what he's paid to do.

The Clackamas County Sheriff's Office said a Wilsonville woman fled her apartment Monday night after getting assaulted by her boyfriend. With blood running down her face, she got in her car and sped across the parking lot to her grandmother's place, where she called 9-1-1.

The 25-year-old provided a statement to the responding sheriff's deputy and then stepped outside to find her car getting towed. The tow driver would not leave the car without making the woman pay a "drop fee."

"I explained to the tow driver that the woman was the victim of domestic violence," Deputy Wes Hall told The Oregonian newspaper. "I told him there was no place to park, so she left the car with its four-way flashers going, because she was trying to get away."

The deputy's arguments failed to persuade.

The driver, who works on commissions, was completely within his rights to tow the car or charge a drop fee to leave it, said Charles White, general operations manager for Retriever Towing. The amount the woman paid has not been disclosed, but White said the fees run as high as $160.

White said Retriever is under contract to patrol the parking lots at the apartment complex, ensuing that fire lanes and emergency-access routes remain unobstructed. "The deputy has no right to tell him to drop the car without charging a fee," he said.

Deputies arrested the woman's boyfriend on an accusation of assault.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Two VA Tow Truck Drivers Charged After Towing Away Toddler

I can't be the only one wondering WHY the mom wasn't charged for child endangerment after leaving her car double-parked, running, unlocked with her two-year old in it...

From Fredricksburg, VA's The Free Lance-Star:

Two tow-truck drivers were charged with felonies yesterday after they towed away a vehicle without realizing there was a small child inside, police said.

The Patriot Towing employees didn’t realize their early afternoon mistake until getting back to the business with the vehicle, a Mazda Protege, sheriff’s spokesman Bill Kennedy said.

The employees immediately called the Sheriff’s Office and reported what happened. That call came four minutes after the 2-year-old girl’s mother called to report a stolen car and missing child.

According to police, the towing employees were on the lookout for improperly parked vehicles in the Thomas Jefferson Place complex when the baby’s mother double parked in front of her mother’s car in the 1200 block of Thomas Jefferson Place.

The mother told police that she ran into the residence about 12:45 p.m. to talk to some people and left the car running and unlocked. The child was in a car seat in the back.

The woman said she came out about five minutes later and the car was gone. She immediately called 911.

Four minutes later, the mystery was solved. The employees apparently had not looked inside the car before hooking it up.

The business is about six miles from where the car was towed, police said.

Jason Bryant, 25, of Spotsylvania and Derek Miller, 21, of Stafford were both charged with felony child endangerment.

Bryant, the driver, was placed in the Rappahannock Regional Jail under a $1,000 bond. Miller was released on an unsecured bond.

The child, who was unharmed, was turned over to her mother. Kennedy said he isn’t sure what happened to the car.

Keith Epps: 540/374-5404

CHP Releases Name of CA Tow Truck Driver Killed

Yesterday, I posted the story about the Performance Towing driver who died on Saturday. Here's a followup story from the Merced Sun-Star:

A 46-year-old tow truck driver killed on Highway 99 on Saturday has been identified by the Merced County Coroner's Office as Timothy Schroeder of Atwater.

Schroeder was killed after being struck by a big rig, the California Highway Patrol reported. He was preparing to connect a car to the back of his truck when the big rig drifted onto the right shoulder, striking him.

The big rig was driven by 58-year-old John Hamersley, of Sacramento, according to Shane Ferriera, CHP spokesman.

Schroeder was an employee at Performance Towing in Merced -- and the second worker at that business to be killed in less than two weeks. Another employee of that company, 41-year-old Randall Armendariz Sr., was shot to death on Nov. 24. Merced police believe Armendariz was killed after confronting an auto thief.

Dawn Ballard, an office manager at Performance Towing, said employees are devastated about Schroeder's death. He had worked at the business for about five months. "He was a loving father and friend," Ballard said. "He could make everybody laugh."

Ferriera said the collision report will be forwarded to the Merced County District Attorney's Office to determine whether Hamersley will face charges.

-- Victor A. Patton

OR Towing Company Owner "Went Above and Beyond"

Yesterday, I posted a bit about the funeral for Richard King, owner of American Towing in Bend, Oregon. Here's another story from the Bend Bulletin about his contributions in his hometown:

Richard King 1963 – 2008

By Scott Hammers / The Bulletin
Published: December 09. 2008 4:00AM PST
Richard King

Richard King

Bend’s Christmas Parade was missing one of its biggest boosters on Saturday because longtime parade sponsor and organizer Richard King died Nov. 23 at the age of 45.

Born in Prineville, King worked in the towing industry for 25 years, eventually buying American Towing. Throughout his career, he was a supporter of several community causes, sponsoring sports teams, concerts, the Bend Metro Park and Recreation District and Sparrow Clubs USA.

In 2005, King was diagnosed with a bone marrow disorder. He tried a variety of treatments over the last three years, and in September, he underwent a bone marrow transplant at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. Friends said King was recovering from the transplant until his health took a turn for the worse in mid-November.

King is survived by his wife, Terri; son, Tyler King; a daughter and son-in-law, Anne and Stuart Thom; and his parents, Mike and Margaret King, all of Bend. Services were held Sunday, complete with a procession of dozens of tow trucks from companies from across the region.

John Maxwell, an employee at American Towing for the last four years, said King was dedicated to his employees, and was always ready to jump into action at a moment’s notice.

A few years ago, Maxwell was driving one of the company trucks up Century Drive, when it caught fire. Maxwell was able tto get out and call King, who was with his son at an orthodontist’s appointment. King left his son in the orthodontist’s chair, Maxwell said, and raced up Century Drive — past the sheriff’s department’s roadblocks — to see the fire for himself.

Maxwell said King reminded his drivers that people who had to call a tow truck were already upset, and that they should try to provide them the best possible experience.

“His tow trucks were spotless — if we had down time, he wanted the trucks cleaned,” Maxwell said. “His motto was, if a person got in the truck wearing a white suit, he wanted them to get out of there wearing a white suit.”

Jeff Leland, the founder of Sparrow Club, said King and his family gave a lot to his organization over the years. Terri King has worked as Sparrow Club’s office manager for six years, and through his company, Richard has put up at least $2,650 to sponsor a sick child every year for nearly as long.

“It was a long, hard, drawn out ordeal for them, but they’re such a wonderful family,” Leland said. “It’s hard to have to see them go through that because they’ve given so much to others.”

Rick and Debbie Clothier have been friends of the King family for several years. The Clothiers run an auto repair business, and like the Kings, are members of Trinity Lutheran Church.

“We always carried his cards around in our cars because if something ever happened, we knew we could call him and he’d be there, even if we were over in the Valley or something, he’d come over there and tow us home,” Rick said.

Debbie, who along with other members of the church organized fundraisers to offset the family’s expenses in King’s last months, said King was proud of his service without drawing attention to himself.

‘Never asked for anything in return’

“He really went above and beyond for people and never asked for anything in return,” Debbie said. “He’s not a person who would do a favor so you’d owe him a favor later, it was more, just do a favor or take care of a need because it was there, and that’s what he wanted to do.”

Ernie Gilpin, chairman of the Christmas parade, said King’s presence was felt at this year’s parade, even though he was not there. Shortly after his death, King’s family called Gilpin to say that American Towing wanted to stay on as an award sponsor, that the company would provide a tow truck just in case a float broke down, and that the company float would be in the parade, just like any other year.

Still, Gilpin said it was difficult not seeing King hanging around the corner of Northwest Nashville Avenue and Harmon Boulevard, where parade organizers have set up their temporary headquarters for years.

“He’ll be missed, for sure. He already is,” Gilpin said. “He and I would just mess around together right there at that corner. We’d have Starbucks coffee, and we’d always have it available to people right close by, and he was always right there. He wasn’t right there this time. That was the difference, it really was.”

Cross Country Announces One Millionth Accident Towing Event

Here's part of the press release from
BOSTON, Dec 09, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Demonstrates Success and Market Demand for Cross Country's Suite of Vehicle Management Services for the Insurance Market
Cross Country Automotive Services (Cross Country) announced today that it has conducted its one-millionth accident scene recovery event. The milestone underscores the demand for and proven success of Cross Country's Accident Management Services developed to address the specific needs of property casualty insurers and their policyholders. Cross Country is a leading provider of vehicle and driver programs including accident management services, emergency roadside assistance and telematics services to the insurance and automotive industries.
Click here to read the rest.

Monday, December 8, 2008

***SO, BILL GOT ME...*** Two Online Towing & Recovery Forums Announce Merger

12/9/08 Update: LOL! Seems that there's actually NO merger going on. The real story: Bill cornered Ron at the Baltimore Show and snapped this shot. Bill made up the following story a la "War of the Worlds." -Cyndi

Here's the post from
Ron Parrish aka "TowZone" & Big Bill Weihrouch, aka "SkyForum" met in Baltimore this last weekend to discuss the merger of the towing industries two largest towing & recovery forums.

The new forum will retain the TowTalk name and include tow411's tag line of "The Towing Information Network"

According to Ron Parrish, tow411 has lost sight of its original goals and has become a powerhouse for the advertisers dollar. He states he can no longer, in good conscience, manage a board that does not support the towers & routinely bans members if their ideas and posts aren't in line with the advertisers interests.

"TowTalk has managed to remain completely out of the advertisers reach" says Ron Parrish, "Skyforum (Big Bill) has hit upon a combination of management strategies that have made TowTalk tremendously successful. I am joining his team to try and infuse some of those successes into the membership from tow411" Ron also added "The members of tow411 may be shocked by this as there has been an ongoing feud of sorts between the two boards. I think, however that once they see what we can bring to the table, they will behind Bill and I 100%"

"I've always been impressed with Ron's ability to get the towers onto their computers" says Big Bill, "I think between the two of us, we will be able to do fantastic things for our towing brethren. The day is fast approaching when the general public will understand just how difficult and necessary our services are."

Ron & Bill expect to have the merger complete and operational by the summer of 2009

Funeral Held for OR Tow Company Owner

Our condolences to the family and acquaintances of Richard King, who owned American Towing in Oregon.
Here's the news story from 1110 KBND:
Funeral services were held today (Sunday) for Richard King. He has worked in the towing industry for 25 years here in Bend and owned American Towing. He is known for his service to Bend by sponsoring sports teams, concerts, clubs, Bend Park and Rec, and especially for his support of the Sparrow Clubs. His standing in his profession was demonstrated by the fact that dozens of tow trucks from companies throughout Central Oregon joined the procession as well as the “Heavy Rescue Truck” from Bend Fire and Rescue and several Bend Police units.

CA Tow Truck Driver Killed By Big Rig

Sad, sad news. Our condolences to the family and acquaintances of a 46-year old tow truck driver who was struck and killed on the side of the highway on Saturday. Our thoughts also go out to the employees of Performance Towing where the man worked. He is the second Performance Towing driver to die in the past two weeks. The other employee, 41-year old Randall Armendariz Sr. was shot to death on Nov. 24 after confronting an auto thief. (Click here to read that post.)

Here's the story from the Merced Sun-Star:

A 46-year-old tow truck driver was killed on Highway 99 on Saturday, after being struck by a big rig, the California Highway Patrol reported.

The CHP has not released the name of the man, who lived in Atwater, and the death is the second for a local tow truck company in less than two weeks.

CHP spokesman Shane Ferriera said the victim was killed shortly before 1 a.m., not long after he had been dispatched to tow away a car on southbound Highway 99, north of Campus Parkway.

Ferriera said the CHP had requested a tow truck after arresting Alfredo Hernadez, 47, of Escalon, on suspicion of driving under the influence.

The tow truck driver responded to the scene and began hooking up the wheels of Hernandez's Ford Taurus.

Meanwhile, the big rig, driven by 58-year-old John Hamersley, of Sacramento, was traveling in the highway's slow lane.

For unknown reasons, the big rig truck drifted onto the right shoulder, striking the victim and the tow truck.

Ferriera said the victim was standing, connecting the Taurus' wheel to the back of his truck, when he was struck by one of the big rig's two trailers.

Two CHP officers, who were already at the scene to arrest Hernandez, saw the collision and called for assistance. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene, Ferriera said.

The officers at the scene were not injured during the collision. Hernandez, who was sitting in back of a patrol car when the collision happened, was also unhurt.

Ferriera said investigators are still looking into why Hamersley veered to the side of the highway. He said alcohol or drugs are not believed to have been factors in the collision.

The victim was an employee of Performance Towing in Merced. Another employee of that company, 41-year-old Randall Armendariz Sr., was shot to death on Nov. 24. Merced police believe Armendariz was killed after confronting an auto thief.

Reporter Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or

Sunday, December 7, 2008

File Under "Not Cool"

From the Hudson Reporter:
Chief William F. Galvin Jr. of the North Bergen Police Department announced today the arrest of four employees and one principal owner of HighPoint Towing of Union City and North Bergen, on various allegations including theft, arson for hire, insurance fraud, possession of burglar’s tools, witness tampering, and aggravated assault.

At the conclusion of a two-month investigation, North Bergen Police Detectives charged that HighPoint tow truck drivers were allegedly paid cash to steal large vehicles and trucks in order to increase revenue and bill insurance companies for a large sum of money, police said.

Five individuals from Union City, Lyndhurst, and Secaucus were arrested.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

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CA Tow Truck Driver Killed While Confronting Thief

Our condolences to the family and acquaintances of Randall Armendariz, Sr. who was shot and killed on Monday, Nov. 24, after confronting a thief. The 41-year old father of four was an employee of Performance Towing of Merced, CA and had worked there for nearly 10 years.
Here's the story from the Merced Sun-Star:

The county's latest homicide victim may have been killed while trying to confront an auto thief.

That's the theory Merced police have formulated about the death of 41-year-old Randall Armendariz Sr., who was shot to death around 10:30 p.m. Monday off Gerard Avenue.

Cmdr. Floyd Higdon said the victim was an employee at Performance Towing in Merced. One of the company's service vehicles, a white 1989 GMC 1500 pickup, was reported stolen at 7:43 p.m. on Monday.

Police believe that Armendariz spotted the stolen vehicle and confronted the thief. Higdon said witnesses reported what appeared to be an argument between the victim and the suspect on Ruby Court near Carmel Road, before shots rang out. "The suspect apparently pulled out a gun and shot him," Higdon said.

After arriving at the scene, police located the victim lying in the road on Ruby Court.

He had been shot at least once in the head and was pronounced dead at the scene, Higdon said.

The stolen pickup was also found by police at the scene, the driver's side door open and the engine running.

Employees at Performance Towing described Armendariz as a caring father of four who had worked at the business for nearly 10 years. Loie Perry, 68, said Armendariz was a "good, likable" person. "We went on a lot of trips together getting cars," Perry said. "We made it a fun thing, not a work thing."

Police haven't yet released a description of the suspect. Higdon said the incident is an example of how confronting a suspect can be deadly. "Call the police. The best thing someone can do is let us take that action," Higdon said.

The death is the city's 10th homicide and the 22nd in Merced County this year.

Police are asking anyone with information about the killing to call Detective John Fister at (209) 385-4755, or the department's tip line at (209) 385-4725.

Tow Truck Crashes Into NC House

Here's the story from NC's Gaston Gazette:

BESSEMER CITY -- A flatbed tow truck smashed through the front door of a house Wednesday morning when its driver swerved to avoid hitting a car.

Police said Gerald Miller, 23, of Bessemer City, was driving the 1998 Chevrolet roll-back wrecker when a 1999 Cadillac driven by Louise Fraley, 74, of Bessemer City, ran a stop sign at the intersection of East Maine Avenue and North Seventh Street.

Miller veered to the left, but his truck hit the side of Fraley's car before striking two vans in the front yard of David Terry's home at 601 E. Maine Ave., said Officer Mike Elliott of the Gaston County Police Department.

Police said the truck burst through Terry's front door and the entire cab came to rest inside the living room.

"The whole cab of the roll-back wrecker was embedded into the house," said Sgt. Mark Johnson. "The occupant said he had just walked through there walking back into his bedroom. I think God was looking out for him."

No one inside the house was hurt when the truck plowed into the living room.

The tow truck spun Fraley's car into the home's front yard, and she was taken to Gaston Memorial Hospital with unknown injuries. Miller was unhurt.

Police said the truck, which is owned by Patterson Auto Parts in Kings Mountain, hit a rented 2008 Dodge van parked in front of the home, pushing it into Terry's 1998 Chevrolet van.

An estimate of damage to the house was not immediately available, but Johnson said the truck left a "gaping hole" in the residence. The wreck was reported at 9:03 a.m. Wednesday.

Fraley was cited for failing to stop at a stop sign.

Everyday Towing Hero Cited for Rescue

Way to go!!! Here's the story from Canada's The Gazette (Montreal):

Tow truck driver Daniel McCluskey received a certificate of merit from Montreal Police for his action last June which led to the safe recovery of a 3-year-old girl who was in the back seat of a car that had been stolen.

"I only did pretty much what anybody else would have done," McCluskey, who has been a tow truck driver for 15 years, said in a telephone interview.

McCluskey was on the job last June 10 and heard the police call about a stolen car with a child in the back seat. The owner of the vehicle had gone into a dépanneur in Dorval to pay for gas when the car was stolen, police said. The robber likely did not notice the toddler in the back seat.

McCluskey spotted the stolen car at the corner of 32nd Ave. and Provost St. in Lachine.

"Mr. McCluskey called police and then went up to the suspect, who ran away," said Montreal Police Constable Ann Mathieu of Station 5. "The young girl was found safe and sound in the car."

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Two Tow Trucks Involved in Crash in TX

Thankfully, no one was killed! Here's the story from

HOUSTON—An off-duty Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy was involved in an accident with a wrecker Wednesday.

It happened around 2:30 a.m. on the 290 feeder at 43rd Street.

The deputy, who was working an extra job, had set up some barrels and a trash truck to keep drivers away from a construction zone.

A wrecker came down the road, blew through the barrels and crashed into the deputy’s squad car.

The squad car hit the deputy.

Just after the first crash, a second tow truck from the same company crashed into the first tow truck.

The deputy’s injuries appeared to be minor.

HPD officers arrested the first wrecker driver on suspicion of drunken driving.

GA Tow Truck Driver Killed

Our condolences to the family and acquaintances of tow truck driver Vinny Joseph. The father of five was killed on the job at the end of November. He was working on an industrial job when a piece of equipment fell on him. He had worked for Northside Towing for 15 years.
Read the story here.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Goofing Off in Baltimore

Ok, ok. It wasn't all work at the show in Baltimore. Footnotes' writer Ann Abraham and I got to try on the Tow Mater balloon sculpture that was created by entertainer Paul Belanger of Cornerstone Productions International, Inc. He told us that it took him six hours to make Tow Mater, and we think he looked much better wearing it than we did!!! When we gave up the gig, Paul headed off to give away his creation to one lucky junior tower.

B/A Products Tour Before Baltimore Tow Show

Before the Footnotes crew checked in for the 2008 Baltimore Tow Show, we had the opportunity to stop by the B/A Products 30th Anniversary Celebration and Open House. Located in Columbia, Maryland, just outside of Baltimore, B/A Products is a manufacturer of parts and accessories for the towing and trailer industries. They're proud to say that they are the oldest and largest such manufacturer in the U.S.

Blanca Rivera, who works as sales support, gave us a great tour of B/A's 60,000-square-foot, eight-bay facility. (That's David Abraham, Footnotes' national accounts manager, next to her.) Blanca told us that "B/A Products" stands for "Best Available Products."

George Moore, one of B/A's 60 employees, showed us the operation of a chain cutter. At this particular machine, nine-link pieces of chain are cut from the 2,340' of chain in the bin on the floor. It's not even noisy when it cuts right through a link.

Fritz Dahlin, B/A's general manager, gave a demo of the welding machine and the process of taking off the "upset" or what's left after the link is closed. He's been with B/A for 25 years.

In the brightly-lit sewing room, employee Mei Liu (on left in top picture) works with webbing for straps using a seriously-heavy duty Singer sewing machine. Further into the room, Blanca shows off a motorcycle strap that Kim Vuth made at her station with plastic-coated webbing.

This cool, street-legal sand rail was built by Fritz's son, Matt Dahlin, as part of his college application. Matt's mom, Patti Dahlin, actually came up with the idea and the 17-year old went to work. He's now 19, studying engineering and we're told that he has plans to come back and work for the company.

In the office portion of the building, Cookie, a Wheaten terrier, keeps an eye on things.

Also at the B/A Products Open House, the International Towing Hall of Fame and Museum Auction to benefit the Survivor Fund brought in a little over $7,000 - more than a $1,000 more than last year. Way to go!

"In this economy, this is great. We're just ecstatic," said George Connolly of the ITHFM, who was thankful that B/A had offered their support and space for the auction. "It's just a cool place and a nice operation."