Police are searching for a man who shot a tow truck driver doing his job at a southwest Houston apartment complex.
The shooting took place Sunday evening at the 7000 block of Hillcroft Avenue near Tarna Lane.
The wrecker driver was in the process of towing cars illegally parked at the complex. Investigators say a man sitting in a Ford Mustang took out a gun and shot the tow truck driver several times.
The driver was taken to Ben Taub General Hospital where he later died.
Monday, September 29, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Police Wednesday said that a 52-year-old man suffered life-threatening injuries after he was pinned between a Dodge Neon and his tow truck in the 2400 block of Imperial Avenue in Logan Heights.Police said a 42-year-old woman driving the 1995 Neon was backing out of a private driveway of a tire shop being guided by an employee of the shop.A tow truck driver was parked along the curb of 24th St. at Imperial Ave., police said, unloading a car.The Neon's driver backed up the car when the employee guiding her told her to stop, police said, though instead of braking she hit the accelerator, backing into the tow truck driver.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
As a tow truck driver, Jesse Vasquez always worried about being hit by a car. Being shot on the job never crossed his mind.
Sitting in a wheelchair at John C. Lincoln hospital, Vasquez remembered last Sunday night when a man opened fire on him.
Vasquez had just towed the man's car to his home near 35th Avenue and Thunderbird Road, and was running a credit card to pay for the $154 bill when, out of the blue, the car owner started shooting at him.
"I looked in the mirror, in my rear view mirror, and he's pointing a gun right at me. He starts unloading and the second shot hits me," recalled Vasquez.
Jesse Corman, 28, faces attempted murder charges.
Vasquez said he is lucky he survived after being shot three times. He was struck once in the lower leg and twice in lower back, hip area.
"I felt the wind from the bullet come right by my head," said Vasquez. "He almost took me away from my kids."
Initial reports indicated Corman shot at Vasquez because he was upset about the tow truck bill. However, Vasquez said he saw no sign of that.
"He didn't give me any indication he was mad. If anything, he said he was gonna pay the bill."
Despite the shooting, Vasquez said he will still likely return to his job as a tow driver calling what happened random.
After the shooting, Corman barricaded himself inside his home.
During the standoff, police said Corman lit fireworks and pointed them in the direction of a police helicopter. No damage was done to the helicopter.
The suspect remained barricaded inside the home and refused to come out until about 11 p.m.
Police said neighbors convinced Corman to come out of the house peacefully, with his hands up.
Corman also faces charges of endangerment, discharging a weapon within the city and aiming a laser pointer at an officer.Copyright 2008 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
A wrecker service owner and driver is struck by a van in Conroe after the van driver crossed into an opposite driving lane in a no passing zone, according to police.
Stanley Schultz, 55, was pronounced dead at Conroe Regional Medical Center. Schultz owned the Second Chance wrecker service.
The accident took place late Tuesday night on FM 3083 near Pollok Road.
Conroe police say the female van driver traveling westbound passed several vehicles, including patrol cars, in the eastbound lane. An investigation will take place to determine if the driver was speeding.
Police will present evidence to the Montgomery County District Attorney's office to determine if charges will be filed against the driver.
Schultz was cleaning up debris from another vehicle accident that took place earlier Tuesday night.
Schultz named his company Second Chance after he survived organ transplants in the past.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Talk about towing the line.
Nearly 300 tow trucks rumbled through New York City on Saturday in an attempt to smash the world record for the largest parade of its kind.
Organizers think they hit the mark, with 292 trucks participating. The procession included flatbeds, wreckers and 50-ton rotators.AP Photo - In this photo provided by the Metropolitan New York Towing Association, 292 tow trucks spell out the words 'New York' on a runway at Brooklyn's Floyd Bennett Field after setting the Guinness World Record for 'Largest Tow Truck Parade' in New York, Saturday, September 20, 2008. The parade, staged by the Metropolitan New York Towing Association, went from Shea Stadium in Queens to the small historic airport in Gateway National Park in Brooklyn.
The trucks departed from Shea Stadium in Queens and cruised down a couple of highways before finishing at an abandoned airport tarmac to spell out "New York."
The previous world record was a parade of 83 tow trucks in August 2004 in Washington state.
Hundreds of people from around the country gathered Saturday morning at the International Towing and Recovery Museum.
Sixty one people were inducted into the towing hall of fame at during a special ceremony.
Their names were added to the Wall of the Fallen, which honors those who lost their lives while serving others.
Families received certificates honoring those men and women and they released white balloons into the sky.
The memorial wall was established at Chattanooga's Towing museum three years ago.
"Also established a fund, a survivor fund which helps the families through a very difficult time. It's been a forgotten industry up until the last few years and now we're making great headway," Museum Trustee George Bakker added.
Bakker says the survivor fund is because many tow companies are still small businesses that don't always offer insurance.
A 54-year-old man died after the tow truck he was driving went through a guardrail Friday night.
Gregory Thornton, of Oceanside, was driving a flatbed tow truck south on the 15 Freeway at the 215 Freeway south connector at 6:49 p.m. when his truck went through the guardrail.
The truck rolled over and trapped Thornton, according to a San Bernardino County coroner's news release.
Thornton was taken to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton.
He was declared dead at 8:14 p.m.
The California Highway Patrol is investigating the accident.
Authorities say 20-year-old Elizabeth Allen was parked illegally at a Portland apartment complex Tuesday. When a tow truck driver arrived and tried to remove her car, a large crowd gathered.
The driver offered to release the car for $150 and Allen allegedly threatened to set his truck on fire.
The driver then apparently locked himself in the cab of his truck and called 9-1-1. That's when the fire was started. The driver exited the cab and extinguished the fire. Nobody was hurt in the incident.
Allen now faces arson and criminal mischief charges. Her court date is Thursday. Her bond is set at $225,000.
JOHANNESBURG - A tow truck driver and petrol attendants helped police arrest an armed robber who robbed a petrol station north of Pretoria at the weekend.
Captain Jan Sepato yesterday said that four men driving a Ford Laser went to the petrol station on Friday night.
Three of the men went into the Excel garage’s shop where they held a cashier at gunpoint.
Two petrol attendants were also robbed. A third petrol attendant saw the trouble and fled, alerting a tow truck driver. The escape car was followed by the tow truck and police later arrested the car owner.
A disgruntled Phoenix man allegedly opened fire on a tow truck driver with a rifle, wounding the man several times in the legs before barricading himself inside his home.
Sgt. Tommy Thompson said in a statement that police don't believe the wounds suffered by the 40-year-old victim, whose name wasn't immediately available, are life-threatening.
Twenty-six-year-old Jesse Corman surrendered to police about four hours after the 7:30 p.m. shooting Sunday, and was booked for investigation of attempted second-degree murder, endangerment and unlawful discharge of a weapon.
Corman allegedly told police that he felt that the suspect was taking too long unloading his disabled car, and also believed the man had stolen his car keys.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
A Detroit Lakes, Minn., tow truck operator who was seriously injured in a Sept. 9 accident while helping set up a Becker County disaster drill has undergone several surgeries while recovering at a Twin Cities hospital.Michael Smith, 44, remained in critical condition at Hennepin County Medical Center on Tuesday, said hospital spokeswoman Christine Hill. Friends and family of Smith have been keeping a journal of his progress on the Web sitecaringbridges.org.
“He is with us and for that I am praying every moment,” Smith’s wife, Julie Smith, wrote on Sunday. “There have been steps forward and just as many backwards but Mike is sustaining.”
Smith, owner and operator of Lakes County Towing in Detroit Lakes, was helping Becker County law enforcement and rescue authorities set up for the Sept. 10 drill that involved an overturned camper made from a converted school bus. The bus started rolling down a small hill at the Soo Pass Ranch near Detroit Lakes, where the disaster drill was held.
The bus rolled into Smith’s wrecker and both started going down the incline. Smith tried to jump into the cab of the wrecker to put on the brakes, but he only managed to get halfway in.
Smith was injured when the wrecker sideswiped a tree and slammed the door shut on him. He suffered a broken pelvis and his leg had to be amputated above the knee, according to the online journal.
“Mike was doing what he loves, serving his community, he loves the people of this community,” Julie Smith wrote.
Also, a benefit fund has been set up for him:
A benefit account has been set up at Bremer Bank to “help offset the massive expenditures that have been encumbered due to the result of the Sept. 9 accident, in which Mike sustained severe injuries while assisting with the disaster drill for Becker County Emergency Services,” Sheriff Tim Gordon said in the news release.
In light of Smith’s community spirit and attachment to emergency services, Gordon is asking that donations be sent in care of the Michael Smith Benefit Fund, Bremer Bank, P.O. Box 827, Detroit Lakes, MN, 56501.
A 60-year-old Ann Arbor man who was driving drunk when he caused the death of a Sakstrup's Towing driver in March was sentenced Tuesday to three to 20 years in prison.
Washtenaw County Circuit Court Judge Donald Shelton told William Lyle he was sending him to prison because of the dangers he imposed on other drivers.
"Drunk driving is a hideous crime because there's no way we can protect ourselves against it," Shelton said.
Shelton sentenced Lyle on one count of operating while intoxicated causing death, a charge Lyle pleaded guilty to in July.Police reports show Lyle drove past an emergency vehicle and flares that had been set up at a traffic crash scene on March 9 on westbound I-94 near US-23. Michael Johnston, 46, of Ann Arbor, was operating a tow truck that was pulling a vehicle out of a ditch. Johnston, who was standing beside his tow truck, was killed instantly when struck by Lyle's vehicle.
Prior to being sentenced, Lyle said the hurt and pain of the event has stayed with him. He said he is an alcoholic and is attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
Lyle's defense attorney, John Shea, said Lyle has not taken a drink since the day Johnston died.
"I blame nobody but myself," said Lyle. "It's unimaginable to me that I took the life of another person. I'm deeply sorry for the hurt and pain I caused the Johnston family. They didn't deserve it."
Johnston's two sisters and brother made emotional victims' impact statements, stopping sometimes to compose themselves.
Susan Johnston-Vivian said there has been a "big, black cloud hanging over our family" since the death of her younger brother, who she said had "a heart of gold."
"This senseless and avoidable tragedy looms in the air like black smoke," Johnston-Vivian said.
Mary Stasiak, Michael Johnston's younger sister, told Lyle, an insurance agent, he was well aware of the dangers of drunk driving."It's difficult to understand that you made your livelihood protecting people from the (same) crime that you committed," Stasiak said.
Michael Johnston's older brother, Daniel Johnston, said he is a recovering alcoholic who drank for 25 years and had drunk-driving convictions. While he said he could relate to Lyle, Johnston said Lyle had a choice not to drink and drive because "he knew what the risks were."
"My brother paid for Mr. Lyle's poor choice," Johnston said. "I truly believe Mr. Lyle did not intend to kill my brother, but we all know the road to hell is paved with good intentions."
Johnston then gave Lyle some advice: "Surrender, trust God, clean house, help others and you will get through this."
A 48-year-old Mississauga man was killed last night when his tow truck crashed into a hydro pole and then a bus shelter in Toronto.
The incident happened around 6:30 p.m. on Kingston Rd., just west of Woodbine Ave.
Police say the driver, whose name has yet to be released, may have already been dead when the crash occurred.
“Witnesses saw the driver slumped over the wheel just prior to the collision,” said Toronto police Cst. Mig Roberts. “There’s no skid marks to indicate the driver was trying to brake and there was no swerving.”
The tow truck was heading west on Kingston Rd. when it crossed into the eastbound lanes. It struck a pole and hurtled towards a bus shelter, sending people scrambling for safety.
The truck also sideswiped a mini-van in the crash, but its driver wasn't hurt, Roberts said.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
It's common courtesy to change lanes when you see a car stopped on the side of the highway, but people are still losing their lives on those emergency lanes. Lawmakers are taking a stand. We already change lanes for police and emergency responders, but the existing law fails to protect other people who make a living working on the side of the road. That includes tow truck drivers.
They're the unsung heroes of the open road. It's the job of the tow truck driver to come to our rescue when we're stranded on the highway, but this job comes with certain danger.
"Say a car's coming along and they're on the cell phone or they're chaning the cd or something, and if the car moves over six inches and you're there, you're going to get hit," says Dick Rautenberg, owner of Dick's 25 Hour Towing. He has been in the towing business for 44 years and has never lost an employee on the road. Some folks in the industry would consider him lucky.
Arizona lawmakers are now stepping in with the Move Over bill. The legislation will extend an existing law to require drivers to change lanes when a shoulder is occupied by a tow truck. Since 2002, four Arizona tow truck drivers have been killed by motorists who veered into emergency lanes.
Rautenberg recalls his brush with death.
"I kind of took a step back and was going to pull the chain and a car came by and the chrome strip caught my belt loop. It was as close a call that I've ever had."
Arizona is one of 43 states with a Move Over law and is set to become only one of 17 to include tow trucks. Flares and beacon lights aside, legislators hope to transform the common courtesy into a life-saving law.
Arizona Department of Transportation vehicles are also included in this bill. ADOT gave us a statement saying it is concerned about the safety of its workers.
A woman suspected of stealing a tow truck led police on a 14-mile chase through three cities early this morning, Bloomington police said.
Around 1:40 a.m., a Bloomington police sergeant on patrol heard a truck crashing through a fence at Chief's Towing Co. near 96th Street West and Humboldt Avenue South, said police Sgt. Mark Elliott.
The woman led police and Minnesota State Patrol troopers on a 14-mile chase onto Interstate 35W and Minnesota 13 through Burnsville and Savage, Elliott said. A Bloomington squad and a Minnesota State Patrol squad were damaged in the chase, which ended in an industrial area of Savage, Elliott said.
There were no injuries.
Bloomington police took the woman into custody on suspicion of auto theft. Police are investigating the incident.
TORONTO, Ont. -- Tow A Truck has expanded its business into Canada, providing roadside assistance for Class 3 through Class 7 trucks.
With its network of over 45,000 service vehicles, the company provides emergency towing, battery boosts, fuel delivery, emergency service dispatch, and changes mounted and inflated spare tires.
"We provide truck drivers and fleet owners peace of mind while helping them to reduce costs and get back on the road as quickly as possible," Tow A Truck officials said in a release.
For more information visit www.towatruck.com or call 866-644-2869.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
New Executive Director Chosen for Southwest Tow Operators
Southwest Tow Operators is pleased to announce that Jess Horton has joined the staff as Executive Director effective September 1st.
Dallas, TX, September 11, 2008 --(PR.com)-- Jess Horton has worked in the towing industry for almost twenty years. He was raised in Lorena, Texas, but spent the majority of his career in Austin, Texas. He started in towing as owner of Repomasters in Austin. He has served as Vice President of Assured Towing with locations in Austin and San Antonio. He is an approved instructor for Austin Community College and founder of their Towing School. He served as Vice President of the Austin Towing Association and Chairman of the Board for the Towing Education Council of Texas. He also helped found Southwest Tow Operators and served as First Vice President since its inception in 2004.
Jess has been an integral part of their phenomenal growth. He was also instrumental in designing their Driver Certification Program which has certified over 5,000 Texas drivers so far.
As an energetic and creative industry leader, Southwest Tow Operators is very proud to have Jess working full-time as the new Executive Director. His focus in the next twelve months will be member training and education and forming strong regional chapters of Southwest Tow Operators.
If any client needs any assistance, they can contact Jess Horton and any of Southwest Tow Operators capable staff anytime.
Contact Information Southwest Tow Operators
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
A Detroit Lakes tow truck operator was seriously injured Tuesday afternoon while helping emergency workers set up for a disaster drill at Soo Pass Ranch.
Mike Smith, 44, owner and operator of Lakes Towing suffered crushing injuries to his lower extremities in the accident.
He was taken to St. Mary’s Innovis Health in Detroit Lakes, taken by Life Flight to a Fargo hospital, then airlifted to Hennepin County Medical Center with “extremely serious” injuries, according to Becker County Sheriff Tim Gordon.The accident occurred as the tow truck operator was helping a Detroit Lakes firefighter, Ryan Swanson, set up a disaster drill scenario involving an overturned camper made from a converted school bus.
The bus started rolling down a small hill at Northwoods Campground at the Soo Pass Ranch, where the disaster drill was held Wednesday.
The bus rolled into the wrecker and both started going down the incline. Smith tried to jump into the cab of the wrecker to put on the brakes, but he only managed to get halfway in, and he was injured when the wrecker sideswiped a tree and slammed the door shut on him.
Swanson, the only other person on the scene, had been spotting for the tow truck driver. The firefighter was able to get him free from the wreckage and call for help.
“It was just a tragic accident,” Gordon said. “He was donating his time and efforts to us for the disaster drill.”
A condition report was not available Wednesday from the Hennepin County Medical Center.
A tow truck operator was seriously hurt while helping set up for a disaster drill in Becker County. Sheriff Tim Gordon says it happened at Soo Pass Ranch near Detroit Lakes. 43-year old Mike Smith of "Lakes Towing" in Detroit Lakes tried to jump into the cab of his tow truck to stop it when he got crushed between the wrecker and a tree. He suffered extensive crushing injuries to his abdomen, hip and legs. He's in serious condition in a Twin Cities trauma center.Here's the KFGO story.
Here's the Wimmera Mail-Times story:
HORSHAM truck towing operator Trevor Oliver will receive an Australian Bravery Medal for rescuing two people from a burning car.
Governor-General of Australia Major General Michael Jeffrey said Mr Oliver, 46, would be one of 24 Australians to receive the medal.
Mr Oliver, a director of Western Truck Towing in Horsham, played down his rescue efforts after a head-on collision on the Bacchus Marsh- Geelong Road on April 3, 2007.
"I was just Johnny-on-the-spot. I would have hoped if I was in the same situation someone else would help me and do the same thing," he said.
Mr Oliver said the crash had left a VW transporter on its roof and burning with a man trapped inside.
"I've never seen a vehicle go up so quickly in all my time in the towing industry," he said.
"I climbed in through the window and the bloke had his legs on fire and I couldn't get him out of the seat.
"I soon realised he was trapped by his seat belt so I cut him out with my pocket knife and dragged him out of the window.
"Another bloke helped me get him out of the window."
Mr Oliver said the other vehicle, a panel van, was embedded into the VW transporter.
"It was a painter's van so it had turps, paints, thinners in it and it was starting to catch fire," he said.
Mr Oliver and a co-rescuer secured a chain from the panel van to a truck at the scene and dragged the van 40 metres down the road.
He stayed at the scene to reassure and comfort the trapped driver, helping cushion and support him until ambulance and rescue personnel arrived.
The two men in the accident were airlifted to the Alfred Hospital.
Mr Oliver said he was amazed how quickly it all happened.
"It all happened in five minutes but seemed to take about half an hour. I was amazed at how many people pulled up and drove off, not many stopped to help," he said.
Mr Oliver now lives in Bacchus Marsh after moving from Buangor, where he lived for 23 years and was a CFA member.
He said his experience in the CFA and as a tow truck driver for 28 years helped him deal with the situation.
Mr Oliver said he was reunited with the man who had been trapped in the panel van through the Channel Seven TV program Medical Emergency.
Maj Gen Jeffrey said Mr Oliver displayed considerable bravery.
"Today's announcement of national bravery awards recognises the heroic actions of those among us who have placed the safety and lives of others before their own," he said.
Mr Oliver will be presented with his medal next year.
Here's the Aug. 27 Malibu Times story:
By Jonathan Friedman / Assistant Editor
A Porsche Cayenne caught fire on Pacific Coast Highway just below Pepperdine University last Thursday morning. The flames nearly reached nearby brush. Nobody was injured.
"It could have endangered the heart of Malibu," said Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff's Deputy Jim Castro, who was the first officer to arrive at the scene. "The heart of Malibu was in danger for five critical minutes."
Malibu resident Rita Voge was driving her Porsche, which she said was "running shaky," to the repair shop at approximately 9:30 a.m. when she noticed smoke coming from the front hood.
"I stopped and pulled over, and I lifted up the hood," she said. "I was very lucky the guy from Malibu Towing was also coming up the hill, and he said he saw a fireball coming under my car. I didn't know."
Erasmo Lopez from Malibu Towing attempted to put out the fire with his extinguisher. This worked at first, but the flames soon restarted. A trail of water with flaming gasoline began to flow down the highway, threatening the brush on the side.
"So I grabbed the lady and told her to get into my truck because it [the Porsche] might blow up." Lopez said.
Lopez contacted firefighters at Los Angeles County Fire Station 88. They took approximately 20 minutes to extinguish the flames.
Capt. A.J. Cunningham said the gasoline had burned through a fuel line below the car, creating the fire trail along the highway.
"It was exciting for a little while," he said.
Voge said, "It was a scary moment, especially after I saw the fireball. I was very lucky."
Westbound traffic on Pacific Coast Highway was stopped at Webb Way for approximately an hour. Drivers were forced to turn onto Webb Way, and then go through Civic Center Way and onto Malibu Canyon Road before getting back onto the highway.
Christopher Sisk, a 31-year old father of three, was killed last May. He worked for his family's A&R Towing of Modesto, CA. Read the CBS 13 story from last year here.
Here's the recent story from CBS13:
MODESTO The Modesto Police department has released a sketch in the death of a tow truck driver who was killed last year while trying to stop a thief from stealing his truck.
31-year-old Christopher Sisk died last May when he stopped at Swaid's Market on Hatch Road to buy a coffee. Sisk spotted a man trying to steal his tow truck and went outside to try and stop him and was run over.
Sisk later died at Doctor's Medical Center from severe head and chest injuries. Officers later found Sisk's truck abandoned on Lombardy Street in Modesto.
Witnesses described the man who stole Sisk's truck as in his early 20s, 6 feet tall, wearing dark clothing. He had a white bandanna or T-shirt on his head.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Modesto Police Department.
Chattanooga city council members defer a vote on a new tow truck ordinance.
Several council members say they need more information to make a decision.
There's been a lot of controversy over whether or not to require a certain piece of equipment to clear the worst truck wrecks.
Now the council wants to look more at the time it takes to clear a wreck not the equipment used to do the job.
The proposed ordinance requires a 90 minute time limit.
The issues were brought forth Tuesday afternoon during a legal and legislative committee meeting.
"Our position is we want the road cleared as quickly as we can, as professionally as we can and we want some type of performance measure that a person has to meet and if they don't meet that performance measure, they are held to task," Bob VanHorn with the TDOT Help Program told council members Tuesday.
The proposed ordinance would also require additional training for tow truck operators.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Read the rest here.
If you've driven into New Hampshire on a highway recently, you probably saw the electronic signs reminding drivers to move over if they see flashing red, blue or amber lights.
The signs were put up by the New Hampshire Department of Transportation earlier this month to inform motorists of changes to the state's "Move Over Law," which requires motorists to "give a wide berth without endangering oncoming traffic" to public-safety personnel and vehicles when drivers approach an emergency or blockage on the highway.
As of Aug. 5, the law now includes the provision that requires motorists to give a wide berth to construction equipment, tow trucks and other vehicles which display a flashing amber, or yellow, light.
But the law could be considered more like "Move Over, please."
It carries no fines or penalties for scofflaws.