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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Terror Attack Victims in Israel Required to Pay for Towing

Interesting Israel News story from YnetNews.com:

Terror attack victims required to pay for towing

Government discovers new income source, charges bulldozer attack victims for towing their cars

Yaron Doron

Published: 07.30.08, 08:59 / Israel News

The State of Israel has discovered a new income source: Charging people whose vehicles were damaged in terror attacks for towing services.

A family of new immigrants from the United States was startled to discover the new policy while trying to overcome the trauma of the
first Jerusalem bulldozer attack. The family was ordered to pay for the towing of its damaged car from the attack scene; other residents faced similar demands.

The vehicle was towed away, and later the family was contacted by a government appraiser and asked to pay NIS 685 (roughly $200) for towing the car.

The Aizenshtats moved to Israel from the US four years ago. On the day of the bulldozer attack they were driving in their car with their three children near the construction site where the terrorist came from.

"We were driving and suddenly saw the bulldozer charging at us," Rochelle Aizenshtat recounted. "We were in shock and we started screaming." One of the girls in the car sustained light wounds only, but the car was seriously damaged.

"This is simply a comedy," Rochelle said. "Our car was damaged in a terror attack, and now they're asking us to pay for the towing?" Notably, one of the owners of the towing company, Yuval Hadad, also slammed what he characterized as an "absurd situation."

"Regrettably, the government ordered me to collect the fee," he said. "I told them it's not alright. Isn't the experience they went through enough?" Hadad added that other residents were also required to pay the towing fee. After the Tax Authority was contacted, officials said they would compensate the car owners and refrain from charging from towing in the future.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Everyday Towing Hero in Nevada

My question: How come these guys seem to be "unnamed" most of the time???

From the Reno Gazette-Journal story:
Both lanes of eastbound Interstate 80 were closed near Fernley for about two hours Monday afternoon because of a vehicle fire. A engine on an 18-wheel Allied Storage truck caught fire about2:10 p.m., forcing the lane closures, said trooper Chuck Allen, a spokesman for Nevada Highway Patrol.A tow truck driver traveling behind the truck saw the smoke and helped separate the truck from the trailer before the fire spread to the trailer. The truck was destroyed.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Everyday Towing Hero in TX

Kudos! From a KFDM News Report:

A storm that parked itself over Vidor flooded the FM 105 underpass at Interstate 10 Thursday afternoon.

A couple of tow truck drivers rescued a woman from the flooding water.

Police blocked the intersection at FM 105 and Interstate 10 in Vidor, but a wrecker driver says a woman went around the police car and didn't get very far.

"Somebody's in need. That's what we're supposed to do, you know, regardless of what it is," said Joey Foux.

Joey Foux with Ray's Towing came to the rescue. He plunged into four feet of water and pushed the car out of the flooded water at I-10 and Main in Vidor.

What were you thinking when you saw her car go closer and closer to deeper water? That I can't believe they done it, they do it every time it floods," said Foux.

On the other side of the underpass, the driver of another four door car tried to get through the water and stalled.

None of the drivers was hurt, and at least one can thank Joey Foux.

He says every time it floods, he gets the opportunity to play in the rain and act like a big kid, and sometimes, even rescue drivers.

"Where else can you run around in shorts and tennis shoes and swim and get wet and play, and you know, flash your lights everywhere," said Foux.

And drive away unharmed, like the drivers he helps. "You gotta love what you're doing. To me, this is fun" said Foux.

We checked just before newstime, and the Interstate 10 underpass at FM 105 in Vidor is open.



Wednesday, July 23, 2008

PTROI Sues to Stop Tow Law in IL

Some more on the IL towing law from Phil Kadner's column in the Southtown Star:

Ask the government for a simple solution to a problem, and you inevitably end up with a bureaucratic mess.

Wreck-chasing tow truck firms have been charging motorists at accident scenes in Chicago $1,000 or more for a tow that should cost about $150.

I wrote a number of columns about this sleazy practice, and the state Legislature in the spring of 2007 passed a law creating rules and regulations for tow truck operators at accident scenes.

None of these rules regulated how much tow truck companies could charge because of federal laws that prohibit rate regulation.

The new law didn't take effect until July 1 of this year, giving the enforcement agency, the Illinois Commerce Commission and the towing industry, an entire year to prepare for the new law.

As I reported in an earlier column, by June of this year the ICC not only had failed to hire any additional police officers to enforce the law, but had yet to begin interviews for those jobs. But, I was told, the ICC was planning to do interviews.

Talk about waiting for a deadline. ...

On Tuesday, the other shoe dropped, so to speak.

I received a news release from the Professional Towing and Recovery Operators of Illinois, the "good guys" of the towing industry, announcing a lawsuit against the ICC.

I should point out that even the good guys of the towing industry didn't like the law very much because they were going to have to pay fees to implement the regulations.

If the Chicago Police Department had only stopped the pirate tow truck firms from operating on Chicago streets, the PTROI insisted, there never would have been a need for a new law.

That's right. But the fact is that Chicago turns a blind eye to these ripoff scams, and there's no indication that is going to change.

So the ICC began enforcing the law, and the good guys are screaming that instead of going after the bad guys, the legitimate tow truck operators are being ticketed and fined.

"While the state Legislature may have enacted the law with good intentions, the ICC has failed to enact regulations to administer the new law," the tow truck operators state in the news release. "For instance, the law requires the ICC to issue safety relocator registration certificates, but the ICC has failed to establish procedures for towing companies to obtain those certificates (despite having nearly a year to enact the regulations). Accordingly, towing companies are unable to comply with the new law even if they wanted to.

"Towing companies are also being issued heavy fines and citations from ICC police for failure to issue pre-tow disclosure forms to customers, even when the towing services is for an abandoned vehicle or initiated by a third-party commercial entity for warranty services on an automobile.

"In each instance, the owners of the vehicle are not present at the scene of the tow and the consent of the owner is not required."

The lawsuit seeks a court order to prevent the state from enforcing the law.

"The Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act of 1995 generally prohibits states from enforcing or enacting laws that relate to the price, route, or service of motor carriers," the news release contends.

In other words, the tow truck operators claim the state does not have the authority to pass regulations on towing companies.

The Illinois Attorney General's office, in the past, has taken the position that states are allowed to pass public safety laws and that towing accidents from the scene of a car accident is a public safety matter.

I'm no lawyer. I'm not a legislator.

And I am not a tow truck operator.

I'm just a newspaper reporter who knows a problem when he sees one.

Towing bills for more than $4,000 were common up until a month ago.

I haven't seen one since the new law took effect.

Some of the good guys in the towing industry tell me the wreck-chasers still are out there doing their thing, but when I've asked for copies of excessive bills, no one has supplied one.

The ICC refused to comment about the lawsuit, with a spokesman claiming a copy of the document (filed Friday) has yet to arrive at its offices.

So maybe the law is working, although it is difficult to understand how the ICC, with about a dozen police officers statewide (five assigned to southern Illinois), could be cracking down on the bad guys and still have time to write tickets on the good guys.

If a court does stop the ICC from enforcing the law, it will certainly bring a smile to the faces of the wreck-chasers.

But then those guys have made so much money off the misery of others that nothing is likely to remove the smirk from their faces.

Phil Kadner can be reached at pkadner@southtownstar.com or (708) 633-6787.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Aussie Tow Truck Driver Killed

Sad news...

Police say the 51-year-old was reversing the road roller off his vehicle when it toppled off, trapping him beneath it at East Seaham about 6:30pm (AEST).

Officers and ambulance crews rushed to the scene on Italia Road but the man died a short time later from internal injuries.

Police believe the road roller lost traction on the tow truck's tilt tray.

They are preparing a report for the coroner.

More Everyday Towing Heroes!

Unnamed TX wrecker drivers come to the aid of a deputy who was trying to subdue a subject. Read the story here.

And a story from Saudi Arabia from the Arab News about a tow truck driver who stopped to help a groom:
BAHA: A groom making pre-wedding arrangements was dismayed when the truck carting the camels, cows and sheep broke down on the way to the abattoir. Fortunately for him a man driving a tow truck just happened to be passing by. According to yesterday’s Okaz newspaper, the tow truck driver agreed to help the groom get his animals to the slaughterhouse. The groom said he couldn’t believe his fortune to have a tow truck driver appear out of the blue just when he needed help. The camels, cows and sheep, on the other hand, weren’t quite as happy about the situation.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Remember: VATRO Legislative Meeting on Tuesday!

For Members of VATRO:
NOTICE OF LEGISLATIVE MEETING
– On Tuesday, July 22, 2008, there will be a legislative meeting for VATRO at Aunt Sarah’s Pancake House at NOON. After VATRO’s meeting about our legislative goals and recommendations from the committee to the board for the next board meeting, members of MIHROA legislative committee will join us at 2:00 PM to present what their legislative goals are for the coming General Assembly session. As always, all members are invited to come if they desire, but only the legislative members can vote at this meeting. All points of view are welcomed at this meeting. Aunt Sarah’s Restaurant is located off I-95 at Exit 104, Carmel Church.

PLEASE CALL THE VATRO OFFICE WITH ANY QUESTIONS OR PROBLEMS. 800-541-2432

Susan Brassell, Administrator
Virginia Association of Towing and Recovery Operators, Inc.
P. O. Box 147
Manassas, Virginia 20108-0147
800-541-2432 FAX 703-361-1749
sue@vatro.org

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sneak Peek for "Wrecked"

Can't wait to see it this Thursday night! Check out this recovery:

Wrecked: Sneak Peak

FL Bicyclist Killed By Tow Truck

Read the story here.

Everyday Towing Hero Honored In TX

Kudos to TX tow truck driver T.J. Knox who was recognized for his heroic efforts on November 26, 2007 when he rescued the unconscious driver of a burning 18-wheeler. Here's the full story by Jamie Nash from The Courier of Montgomery County:

An East County wrecker driver was the last person and only civilian honored for his heroism this week after he and four law enforcement members rescued a man from a burning 18-wheeler after a multi-vehicle pileup on U.S. 59 in November.

The Texas Department of Public Safety presented Timothy “T.J.” Knox with the Director’s Award, signed by DPS Colonel Thomas A. Davis Jr., in New Caney at the office of Precinct 4 Commissioner Ed Rinehart.

Knox was nominated for the award by Trooper Paul Kohleffel, who was also a part of the Nov. 26, 2007 rescue effort. In his letter of nomination, Kohleffel detailed how he and Knox forced open the damaged door of the 18-wheeler and freed the trapped and unconscious driver as flames spread toward the cab of the truck.

“Had it not been for Mr. Knox’s personal disregard for his own safety, I have no doubt that Mr. Bailey would not have survived the accident on that day,” the letter states.

Captain Patrick Mulligan presented the award to Knox, whose children, Dalton and Kaitlyn, and his fiancé, Casey Lawson, looked on.

DPS Sgt. Donald Nance said the award was an excellent opportunity for the agency to recognize a citizen for his assistance.

“(Knox) can’t be repaid by money for his actions, but he’s been recognized by the department and is looked up to as a hero,” Nance said.

DPS Lt. Terry Truitt said the situation was unusual in his experience.

“This is the first incident I’ve been close to when a citizen risked his life in that way,” Truitt said.

He was proud of Knox’s actions and Kohleffel’s, as well.

“We don’t want them to put themselves in unnecessary peril, but sometimes they do in order to get the job done,” Truitt said.

Kohleffel received the DPS Director’s Citation for his heroism.

Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Cpl. Rowdy Hayden, Deputy Justin Hamilton and Deputy Duane LeBeau were recognized earlier this month by the Houston/Harris County 100 Club for their role in the rescue.

Farewell, Friend

Our condolences to the family and acquaintances of Carl DeSpain of WA. The longtime owner of Carl's Towing died last Tuesday at age 66. Read a great story about the tribute paid to him by the WA tow truck community by Erik Olson of The Daily News Online.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

NC Man Smashes Rear Window of Tow Truck During Repo

Read the story here.

Interesting story about this CA tow truck driver

Read about Big Mike's Mission here.

Everyday Towing Hero in Australia

Kudos to this Australian tow truck driver! Here's the story from ABC Regional Online:

A tow truck driver helped rescue a woman from a house fire at Milton in Brisbane's west this afternoon.

The blaze badly damaged the house in Railway Terrace, which had a collection of artworks inside.

James Whimp says he was driving nearby when he noticed smoke.

"I ran down the back of the house to locate a ladder to get her down," he said.

"But I couldn't find one so I ran over to my truck and backed it down the driveway where two police officers, a paramedic and myself pulled her out of the window."

New Orlando, FL Booting Ordinance

The new ordinance starts in 10 days and reduces the fee from $100 to $22. A tow truck driver must wait 15 minutes before booting, as well. Read the story here.

Monday, July 7, 2008

"Wrecked" In The News

Here's a good Chicago Sun-Times story by Mary Wisniewski on the Gratzianna family and the new SPEEDTV series "Wrecked" that premiers next Thursday, July 17th, at 9:00 p.m. CST - Read it here.

Here's another from the Chicagoist. Click here.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

CA Man Arrested For Shooting At Tow Truck Driver

Here's the blurb from the Union-Tribune newsblog:

A man was arrested this morning after he shot at a tow truck driver who was about to repossess his vehicle, sheriff's officials said.

The man was on Dale Avenue near Kanora Drive in Spring Valley just after 9:30 when he fired at the truck, officials said.

The shooter took off and was arrested about 20 minutes later by California Highway Patrol officers. He was taken into custody without incident. The tow truck driver was not injured.

Tow Truck Slaying Trial Delayed in NC

Here's the Rocky Mount Telegram story:

NASHVILLE — The murder trial of a Rocky Mount man accused of shooting and killing a tow truck driver was delayed Monday to allow the defense time to review previously unreported evidence.

James Taylor Jr., 25, is charged with first degree murder in the Jan. 1, 2007 slaying of 24-year-old William "Lee" Corbett. Corbett was gunned down around 3 a.m. that night while attempting to tow an illegally parked vehicle outside a gun shop on North Church Street. He died in the hospital nine days later.

The trial was scheduled to begin Monday, but Taylor's defense attorney Steve Fisher submitted a motion to continue the trial until a later date.

Corbett's family was upset by the delay, but said they understood the situation.

N.C. Superior Court Judge Quentin Sumner granted the continuation, but urged both Fisher and Assistant District Attorney Keith Werner to be prepared come Aug. 11.

"This date is set in stone," Sumner said. "If anything else comes up at that time, it just won't be included."

Read Tuesday's edition of the Telegram for the complete story.

$500,000 Bail Set for CA Tow Truck Company Owner

Here's an excerpt from the Gilroy Dispatch:
A San Jose judge set bail at $500,000 Friday afternoon for a local tow truck operator who stands accused of defrauding hundreds of motorists in local small claims courts.

Defense attorneys for Vincent Cardinalli, Sr., 65, his son Paul Greer, 31 - formerly Vincent Cardinalli, Jr., and two other family members met with Deputy District Attorney Dale Lohman at the Hall of Justice in San Jose for Cardinalli's bail hearing and to set the date for the group's preliminary hearing.

Read the whole story here.

CT Tow Truck Driver Charged In Police Incident

Sounds like this was quite the scene during this illegal-parking incident...
Read it here.

IL's New "Safety Towing Law" Goes Into Effect Today

Here's a column by Phil Kadner of The Southtown Star, who takes credit for the legislation.

And here's a report from CBS2 Chicago, which also claims credit for the legislation, thanks to their investigations...

Seems that Fuel Prices Are Affecting Towing Companies Adversely, Too...

Here's an excerpt from a story in The Daily Press:
Sam Brewer, president of the Towing & Recovery Association of America, said tow truck companies are having a hard time dealing with the increase in gas prices.

He said many companies have to raise their prices or make their service area smaller.

"If a company serves a 15 mile radius, they are probably decreasing it to a 5 or 10 mile radius," he said. "Tow truck drivers are not idling trucks as much, and many drivers can't take their vehicles home with them."

Brewer said with the rise in gas prices, many people have chosen to drive less which is also affecting the tow truck business.

"I think people aren't using tow companies until they absolutely have to," he said. "The average person is driving a little less, which has an effect on tow trucks. A 10 percent reduction in mileage represents a 10 percent reduction in towing."
Read the full article here.