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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

To all of our American readers, Happy Turkey Day! We're thankful for YOU!!!
From all of us at Towing & Recovery Footnotes

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cool Tow Truck Cake

Click here to check out this tow truck birthday cake. Pretty cool!

SC Tow Truck Driver Stabbed

Here's the Hilton Head Island Packet story:

A Bluffton tow truck driver is recovering after being stabbed in the abdomen Friday night. He was in an area where residents and the property management have an ongoing dispute about parking enforcement.

Preston Oates, owner of Pro Tow, was in the process of towing a vehicle in Shady Glen Mobile Home Park just before 11 p.m. Friday when tenants of the home on Shady Glen Circle confronted him, authorities said.

An altercation ensued, ending with Oates being stabbed. Oates said the knife went about 10 inches into his body, narrowly missing a kidney and other organs. He was taken to Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah, where he underwent surgery over the weekend.

A detective is trying to sort out who stabbed Oates and find the weapon that was used, said Cpl. Robin McIntosh, spokeswoman for the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office.

No charges have been filed.

Oates said he identified the two men he thinks are responsible.

Shady Glen, a neighborhood of narrow streets and small driveways just outside of old town Bluffton, has been the scene of a recurring clash between residents, the property manager and Pro Tow, which has a contract to enforce parking rules.

Last month, residents of the mostly Hispanic neighborhood protested the towing and booting of about 15 vehicles that were improperly parked on the streets and in front yards.

Several deputies tried to keep the peace, while the residents lamented having to pay up to $385 to get back their cars.

Oates has been accused of using aggressive tactics on several occasions, most recently in July. In that incident, he was charged with three counts of assault with intent to kill and other weapons violations after allegedly firing a gun at three men during a repossession gone wrong at Rollers Mobile Home Park on Hilton Head Island. The bullets inadvertently went into a trailer with a family sleeping inside.

Oates maintains he was protecting himself from the three men, who he said were armed with sticks, beer bottles and a semi-automatic handgun.

About a month later, one of the men -- 18-year-old Eric Hagen, who lived in the mobile home park -- was charged with robbing five men at gunpoint.

The cases against Hagen and Oates are pending.

Oates, who often carries a holstered weapon, said he did not have his gun Friday when he was stabbed.

He said he fears retaliation and hasn't gone back to his job.

"On July 16, I defended myself and ended up in jail," Oates said. "On Friday, I didn't defend myself and ended up in the hospital. What am I supposed to do?"

Two IL Tow Truck Operators Shot

Here's the story from the Chicago Sun-Times:

Two tow truck operators were shot Monday morning on the West Side in the Garfield Park neighborhood.

The men were bringing a vehicle into a tow yard in the 4000 block of West Lake Street about 10:35 a.m. when an unknown offender began shooting at them, according to police News Affairs Officer John Henry.

One victim was standing outside the truck when he was shot and taken to John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County in critical condition. The other man was shot while sitting in the truck and was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital in “stable” condition, Henry said.

No motive or description of the shooter was immediately available.

No one was in custody early Tuesday and Harrison Area detectives are investigating.

Here's another story by the Chicago Tribune.



Thursday, November 20, 2008

Come Visit Us In Baltimore This Weekend!

If you're going to the Baltimore Tow Show this weekend, stop by the Towing & Recovery Footnotes booth! Get a free copy of the newspaper and chat us up! I'll be there, along with accounts manager David Abraham.

Got an issue about the industry? Know someone we should profile? I'm interested in talking to you!
-Cyndi

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Also in NY...

Are you a member of the Empire State Towing & Recovery Association (ESTRA) and have you been contacted by a Kansas City law firm about the Consolidated Iron and Metal Superfund site?

If so, you are encouraged to contact ESTRA counsel Pete O'Connell at 518-436-7202 for more information about attending a meeting with the law firm of Young Sommer (www.youngsommer.com).

Progressive's Truck Tips Contest

Got a good tip to share about safety, health or saving money while on the road? Submit your best one online at Progressive Truck Tips website at http://www.progressivetrucktips.com/ by March 31 and you might have a shot at a $5,000 grand prize.

The winning truck tip will also be featured in a Progressive commercial auto insurance radio ad. In addition to one grand prize winner, there will be six category winners of $500 each for: funny tips, fuel saving tips, on-the-road tips, driving tips and safety tips. Complete rules and information are also available at Progressive Truck Tips website.

towPartners Releases Free Fleet Maintenance Software


Here's part of the press release:
towPartners today announced that it has released a free truck maintenance tracking software for all of its members which is now available at www.towfleet.com. The towFleet system has been in use by approximately 100 companies in a testing phase which was recently completed and the application is now available to the entire towing industry through towPartners. towFleet is a web-based software tool that offers quality features without any investment by towing, repossession and road service companies who are members of towPartners. From small wrecker companies to full scale towing and recovery operations with diverse capabilities, the towFleet tool can assist with maintenance planning, cost tracking, reporting, fuel management and more.


Read the rest by clicking here.

Sad Update to Previous Post: Child Dies of Injuries from IL Tow Truck Accident

Here's the story from IL's Belleville News Democrat.

Interesting Story about a Tow Truck Driver, A Shoe Repairman & A Safe

Click here to read the story from The Eagle-Tribune of North Andover, MA.

Man Pleads Not Guilty in Death of NY Tow Truck Driver

Here's the story from The Buffalo News:

A Cheektowaga man was allowed to remain free on $25,000 bail Monday after pleading not guilty to an 11-count indictment in the death of a tow truck operator on the Niagara Thruway this spring.

David Brown, 64, of Markus Drive, was indicted on counts that included vehicular manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and driving while intoxicated in the death of Kevin Coffta, 28, of Clarence Center, at about 5 a. m. April 2.

State Supreme Court Justice Penny M. Wolfgang allowed Brown to remain free on his previously posted bail.

Brown told investigators he had been gambling and drinking wine for about 12 hours at the Seneca Niagara Casino in Niagara Falls before the highway fatality. He declined to comment after his arraignment.

Lynette M. Reda, chief of the Erie County district attorney’s Vehicular Crimes Bureau, said Brown also was indicted on various traffic infractions, including speeding.

Coffta was standing outside his flatbed tow truck on the southbound Niagara Thruway in the Town of Tonawanda preparing to tow an abandoned vehicle left on the shoulder of the road when Brown’s southbound SUV veered onto the shoulder, sideswiped the abandoned vehicle and struck Coffta, police said at the time. Coffta, who was working for Marty’s Towing Service on Grand Island, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Brown’s SUV reportedly flipped over several times before landing on its roof in the median. Police said he suffered a minor hand cut.

Here's the link to the first post about the death of 28-year old Kevin Coffta.

Monday, November 17, 2008

AAA Utah's Turkey Towing

Thanks to AAA Utah, nonprofit kitchens in Salt Lake City will receive 3,400 pounds of turkey this Thanksgiving. It's the 12th year that the organization has donated the main course for thousands of people in need. AAA is also bringing the birds to kitchens in Nevada and California.
Click here to read the story.

NY's New Predatory Towing Law In Effect

From the Farmingdale Observer:

New State Law Protects Drivers from Predatory Towing Practices

A new state law went into effect last month protecting drivers from predatory towing practices such as hiding no-parking signs and paying kick-backs to parking lot owners to tow cars from their lots. State Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr., Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg and Oyster Bay Town Clerk Steve Labriola announced the new law, which was sponsored by Fuschillo and Weisenberg.

"Far too often, people have returned to a parking lot to find their car missing, only to discover that it was towed because they parked in an area without obviously visible tow warning signs" said Fuschillo, chairman of the Senate Committee on Consumer Protection. "This new law will help end these predatory practices and require parking lot owners and tow companies to be up-front and honest about their policies."

Weisenberg said, "In my own district, I have personally seen people have their cars unjustly held hostage by predatory towers with little choice other than to pay cash on the spot or have their car taken away, without any apparent justification or recourse. I am pleased that our Long Island delegation worked together in a bipartisan fashion to enact these new consumer protections and improve our quality of life."

Predatory towing has been a problem for many New York State motorists, according to Fuschillo. He also said that some tow companies have lured drivers to forbidden parking areas that do not have adequate 'no parking' signs. Others have used spotters equipped with binoculars and walkie-talkies to summon tow trucks at a moment's notice. Some tow companies have also paid kick-backs to parking lot owners who give them exclusive rights to tow cars from their lots.

Town Clerk Labriola stated, "These modern day parking lot pirates plunder the vehicles of unsuspecting motorists. This law supports legitimate towing operators by enabling law enforcement to effectively combat this corrupt behavior. No longer will kickbacks or fee splitting between lot owners and towing companies act as an incentive. These are common sense measures protecting consumers and go a long way in reforming this industry and protecting the public. I am pleased that we could work together to curb this practice of predatory towing."

The new law (S. 2360-D, chapter 328) requires private lots to conspicuously post signs stating that unauthorized vehicles will be towed at the owner's expense. The signs must identify the tower who removed the vehicle and the address where it can be reclaimed. Under the prior law, parking lots were only required to have signs stating the name and address of the property owner and the name of the towing company authorized to tow from the lot. There was no requirement that signs had to be conspicuously posted and the signs did not have to warn people that unauthorized vehicles will be towed at owner's expense or include contact information where people could reclaim their cars.

In addition, private lot owners are now prohibited from accepting kick-backs or sharing in any proceeds earned by towing companies that tow from their lot. Local governments are also allowed to enact their own stricter laws to combat predatory towing.

Under the new law, the State Attorney General is also given the power to stop businesses from performing such practices and seek civil damages under the new law and courts may impose a civil penalty of between $50 and $1,000 for each violation.

In March 2006, Massapequa resident Melissa Maltese's car was towed within minutes of parking it at an unattended Hicksville commuter lot. To get her car back, she had to pay $150 in cash.

"I was shocked when I returned to the parking lot and my car was gone," said Maltese. "I had to walk halfway across the lot before I saw a no parking sign. This new law will help protect New York drivers from these unfair practices."

Bruce Goldblatt, owner of Bill's Towing, said, "I've seen other tow companies engage in all kinds of aggressive practices including overcharging, no receipts, poor signage as well as parking lot owners who take kick-backs from tow operators. These predatory practices give our industry a bad name. This new law will help curb these tactics."

Local governments will also be allowed to enact their own regulations to combat predatory towing in addition to the state law. The State Attorney General will also be empowered to stop businesses from performing such practices and seek civil damages under the law.

Sad News From IL

Here's the story from the Belleville News Democrat:

- News-Democrat
An Edwardsville tow truck driver was charged with driving under the influence in connection with a Friday morning hit-and-run accident that left a Granite City man dead and his infant son critically injured.

Mark Alan Ikerman, 43, of 2900 Sand Road, Lot 23, was charged Friday afternoon with two counts of aggravated DUI, leaving the scene of an accident involving injury or death and failure to report an accident involving injury or death.

Donald Lee Legens, 34, of 2879 Iowa St., was killed when a tow truck rear ended the SUV he had been driving on West Pontoon Road. His 9-month-old son, whose name was not released, was seriously injured.


Grandmother Geneva Willoughby, 71, of Venice said Legens was on his way to Wal-Mart to get diapers for "little Donny Lee," Willoughby's great-grandson. The 9-month-old is at Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center in St. Louis.

"They gave him about 12 hours to live," Willoughby said.

Willoughby said Legens, "who loves children," had four kids of his own. His wife is 7-months pregnant with their second child.

Willoughby said she has seen Ikerman where she works.

"I hope they do something with that man that hit him," she said. "He comes into the restaurant where I work, Lisa's Diner in Granite City."

Legen's grandma said she didn't see Legens very often. He worked at a collections agency in St. Louis, she said.

Legens was apparently outside of his vehicle putting gas into his 1999 Kia Sportage that was stopped in the right lane of eastbound West Pontoon Road, near Briarcliff Lane, when he was struck by the tow truck that fled the scene, according to Madison County Coroner Stephen P. Nonn.

Legens was pronounced dead at the scene at 1:20 a.m. Friday. He died as a result of head trauma.

According to police, Ikerman worked for Manheim Auto Auction in Granite City and was drunk while driving the tow truck that rear-ended the stopped SUV and drug it 300 feet down the road. Legens was outside the vehicle which had apparently run out of gas, said Granite City Police Major Jeff Connor.

Legens' son was in a car seat. He was airlifted to Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital in St. Louis in serious condition.

"He's still in very serious condition, it doesn't look good," Connor said.

Police said Legens had run out of gas so he took his son to a nearby gas station and returned with gas. Police said the man placed his son back in a car seat in the vehicle before refilling it when a flatbed tow truck, traveling at a high rate of speed, struck the vehicle and the man, who was refilling the SUV.

A witness to the accident followed the tow truck and called police, Connor said. The tow truck was not trying to pull over the help the disable vehicle, he said.

"We're very happy that someone from the public chose to follow the vehicle," Connor said. "We appreciate the citizen's help in this."

Police found the tow truck in the driveway of a residence around 7 a.m. Friday and arrested the driver.

Ikerman was cited for some traffic violations in 2004, but has no other felonies or DUIs in Madison County, said Stephanee Smith, spokeswoman for Madison County State's Attorney Bill Mudge.

Ikerman was expected to be transferred Friday evening from the Granite City Police Department to the Madison County Jail.

Friends erected a cross at the crash scene Friday and Lynda Curtis and Donny Ezell stopped to pay their respects. Ezell placed a flower and said they'd been friends for 20 years.

Ezell said Legens was a devoted father.

Contact reporter Maria Baran at mbaran@bnd.com or 239-2460. Contact reporter Jennifer A. Bowen at jbowen@bnd.com or 239-2667.

OK's Move Over Law Now Includes Tow Trucks

Kudos to OK! Here's the story from KSWO 7 News:

Lawton_When you are driving and you see the flashing lights of a police car or an ambulance ahead of on the right, you should move to the left lane. It isn't only a courtesy, it's the law in Oklahoma. This year, Oklahoma lawmakers added wreckers to the list of emergency vehicles in the original signed two years ago. As of November 1, if a tow truck is stopped with its lights on, and a driver doesn't move over, he or she may see a hefty fine.

7News set up a camera on the side of I-44 heading northbound out of Lawton to see if drivers were obeying the new law. The 7News car was parked behind the wrecker as though our crew was in need of help. While some drivers moved over as they should, a lot did not. Drivers could see the wrecker's lights for more than a quarter of a mile back, but some drivers just did not pay attention and make the move.

A wrecker owner for 20 years, Glen Alford communicates with other operators on an internet message board, and each day, there's always bad news. "We're standing alongside the road, 90% of the time, right with the troopers and the other police officers, he said. "It is a scary thought to be working on one, look up, and see something coming at you at 70-miles-an-hour."

He says that not a day goes by when he doesn't hear news of a wrecker operator being killed. "There's always another posting that a wrecker operator was killed somewhere in the United States," he said. "In fact, this morning I opened the mail, and there were three killed in the last 24 hours in the United States."

State troopers say that wreckers deserve to be included in the law, too. "They're on the shoulder of the road, and the vehicle may be disabled and not be able to be moved any further off the road," said Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper John Hoover. "They're working close to the side of the road, and so it's important for those guys and their safety that you slow down and move over."

However, drivers still continue to cruise past troopers with their lights on even after it being a law for two years. 7News was filming with a trooper on I-44, and a driver immediately passed just feet from the 7News car. The troopers pulled him over, and the driver told them that he wasn't aware of the law. "It could be a lifesaver if you move over, deadly if you don't," said Hoover. "The consequences of hitting someone like that, can kill them. You would probably be charged with vehicle homicide."

Troopers gave the driver a warning, and a ticket for failing to move over for any emergency vehicle carrying a fine of $206.50. As of November 1, every state in the country now requires drivers to slow down and move over for wreckers and other emergency vehicles.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Round of Applause to IL Towers!



Kudos to Worldwide Equipment Sales and all who made the Tow Trucks for Tots Parade such a success! Here's the announcement from Mick O'Sullivan of Worldwide Equipment Sales:

The Inaugural Tow Trucks for Tots Parade was held on Sunday November 9, 2008. The goals of this event were to collect toys for underprivileged children, improve upon the image of tow truck drivers and to establish a new entry for the Guinness World Records.

The temperature was a chilly 32 degrees with light rain and snow showers. All the trucks assembled at the Empress Casino parking lot in Joliet with some trucks arriving as early as 2:30 AM! One of the more interesting side notes was that a large group of towers met on the Illinois Tollway to convoy to the Empress, a sort of a para
de to a parade!

A drive
rs meeting was held at 8:15 AM and started with the Pledge of Allegiance from Bob Skrocki of the PRTOI and then an invocation from Bob Bowers, a local tower who is the chaplain of a Christian motorcycle club. Then, Mick O'Sullivan from Worldwide Equipment Sales gave final instructions to all drivers . By then it was time to fire up the engines and start them rolling out.


We took 1-80 west to 1-55 north to Harlem Ave south to our final destination, Toyota Park . The total length of the parade route was 42 miles from start to finish , and the parade itself was a mind blowing 8 miles of tow trucks loaded with toys!

As the trucks rolled out of the Empress Casino parking lot, I felt as proud as I could to be a part of this great industry . It was an awesome sight to see the faces of the drivers, some with their children and wives in the cabs as the le
ft on their journey to deliver their toys . It was so neat to see a continuous line of towing equipment some decked out with Christmas decorations as they made their way. We had people stop their cars and wave us on ! We saw a Marine in dress blues who stopped his car and was saluting the drivers as they passed . This was one of those moments that will stay in our hearts and minds forever!

The toys were collected at Toyota Park, and when I said toys I mean toys ! Towers brought bundles of toys, so many toys it filled three dump trucks provided by the Village of Bridgeview Public Works, as well as two moving vans provided by Two Men And A Truck . The toys that were collected are being donated to the ChicagoLand Toys for Tots Motorcycle Parade. This group has some 30 years experience of collecting and distributing toys to children and families in need.

The final count of tow trucks was 239. While we did not establish a new record we did meet our two primary goals. And we can all feel good knowing that there will be many happy children this Christmas in the Chicago land area, that I can assure you!

We would like to give special thanks to Mayor Steve Landek of Bridgeview, who really pulled all his resources together to give us a great venue like Toyota Park as our destination ! Thank You, Mayor Landek!

Next year's date has already been set and plans are being made for next year's parade . Worldwide Equipment Sales dealer Principal Pat Winer said " We could not have been happier with all the great towers that participated in this event, we collected more toys then I ever thought we would . I promise that next year's event will be bigger and better than this year's " . He also went on to say " We really appreciated all that volunteered their time, without them we would not have been able to put on this world class event. "

Please visit our web page www.TowTrucksForTots.com for complete pictures andinfo on next year's event.

Click here to read a story on the event from the Southtown Star.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

CA Tower Seriously Injured In Roadside Crash

Here's the CBS 5 news story:
A tow truck driver was seriously injured today on Interstate Highway 680 in Danville when an alleged intoxicated driver plowed into him while he was trying to help a disabled vehicle, California Highway Patrol Officer Steve Creel said.

The crash happened at 12:05 p.m. on southbound Highway 680 south of Sycamore Valley Road, Creel said.

Richard Castro, a 28-year-old Discovery Bay resident who operated a AAA tow truck for Save Tow in San Ramon, was on the side of the highway helping the driver of a disabled Subaru Forester when he saw a two-axel truck coming toward him.

The truck driver, 50-year-old Antioch resident David Gava, veered his truck off the road for an unknown reason and crashed into the Subaru, peeling off the entire left side of the vehicle, and then striking the left side of the tow truck, Creel said.

Castro, who was standing on the left side of the tow truck, saw Gava's truck coming and tried to jump out of the way, but the impact caused him to be either struck or run over by his own vehicle, Creel said.

Castro and Gava both sustained major injuries. The driver of the Subaru was outside the vehicle during the crash and was not injured.

A fourth vehicle, an Acura TL, was also involved in the crash, but CHP officers were still trying to determine which vehicle hit it.

The driver of the Acura sustained minor injuries.

The highway was briefly shut down in both directions to allow a medical helicopter to land. The helicopter transported Castro to John Muir Medical Center in critical condition, Creel said.

A ground ambulance transported Gava and the driver of the Acura to Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley. Gava was later transferred to John Muir Medical Center, where he was treated and arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The wreckage was cleared and all lanes of the highway were reopened by about 2:45 p.m., Creel said.

Monday, November 10, 2008

MT Tower to Receive Top 10 Award in Baltimore

Story from The Montana Standard:
Nov 10, 2008 (The Montana Standard - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- SCL | Quote | Chart | News | PowerRating -- Not everyone is cut out for the job Richard "Bummer" Stepan can't get enough of.

"It takes a special breed," he said, of those who chose the tow truck driver career path.

He's on the clock, around-the-clock. At 3 a.m., on weekends or on holidays, call his phone and he will answer.

"You can never expect a phone call," he said. "Or it won't come." He said that the weird hours don't bother him anymore.

"It's just natural now because I've been doing it so long." Stepan has worked as a tow truck driver since 1988 and has spent the last nine years working at Yates Body Shop on Paxson Avenue.

He's been attending sessions with the national training organization WreckMaster Inc. since 2001, polishing up on the tricks of the trade.

For all his dedication, WreckMaster named him one of the top 10 tow truck drivers in the United States for 2008.

He will travel to Baltimore later this month to attend the American Towman Convention and Exposition where he will receive his award and be honored at a special luncheon event.

Lisa Yates, co-owner of the body shop, said Stepan has "proven himself to be a valuable dependable member of the Yates team." Stepan said in 20 years behind the wheel, he's seen just about everything.

"I've pulled cars out of lakes, ponds, creeks, trees," Stepan said. "You name it." One of his most difficult jobs entailed a truck that had flipped over an eight-foot retaining wall and landed square on its wheels, without as much as a dent on the fender.

Stepan and another secured cables to both ends of the truck, lifted it above the wall and set it down on the road without any further damage.

"You have to know what your truck can do and the limits of your equipment," he said. "WreckMaster is great for that." Stepan said his training sessions have taught him discipline, professionalism, customer service and the confidence to react to difficult problems.

"We want to raise the whole industry to some higher standards and be recognized for what we're worth," said Stepan.

He's attended courses in Mountain Home, Idaho, Belgrade and Loveland, Colo., as well as a regional session in Butte.

He's also an Automotive Service Excellence certified technician and qualified to do collision repair.

But his true passion is towing and recovery. He's got a WreckMaster decal on the back window of his truck and a tattoo of the company's logo on his arm.

"A special breed," he laughed. "I wasn't kidding." -- Reporter Tim Trainor may be reached via e-mail at tim.trainor@lee.net.


TX Tow Truck Operator & Customers Killed

Our condolences to the family and acquaintances of tower Jimmy Blackburn and the family and acquaintances of his customers, Terry Lee Adams and Clint Ray Clifton.

Here's the KTBS News 3 story:

A tow truck operator and two customers were killed over the weekend when a tractor-trailer rig slammed into the truck on the shoulder of Interstate 20 near Marshall, Texas.

Texas state troopers said the 18-wheeler veered onto the eastbound shoulder just east of Marshall about 1:30 a.m. Sunday. It slammed into the flatbed tow truck, killing Marshall towing service operator Jimmy Blackburn and two customers, Terry Lee Adams of Alvarado and Clint Ray Clifton of Wolfe City.

Good Story About a CA Tower

From the Hanford Sentinel:

Life gets harrowing on road for local tow truck driver

Standing inches from rushing traffic on Highway 99, Dave Klamm was focused on hooking a wrecked car to his tow truck. He wasn't watching the car hurtling toward him. But he felt it -- a whoosh that spun him around. When Klamm looked down, his shirt was torn where the car's side mirror had caught it, somehow missing flesh as it sliced through the fabric at 55 mph or more.

"Man, that was close. I tell you what, I don't want to go through that again," Klamm said.

Welcome to the life of Klamm, a 58-year-old Hanford resident who spends 12 hours a day doing a job that many think is among the most dangerous out there.

An estimated 50 to 60 tow truck drivers are killed every year on U.S. roadways, according to the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame, a Chattanooga, Tenn., organization that includes exhibits on the history of towing and a "Wall of the Fallen" recognizing tow truck drivers killed in the line of duty.

"We are first responders like the fire and police are. We just felt like we need (recognition) for our tow truck drivers too," said Georgia Hamilton, an employee at the facility.

There have been no Hanford city plaques recognizing Klamm, no ceremonies at Kings County Board of Supervisors meetings, no press releases hailing his courage.

Klamm works from a non-descript Ace's Towing office along a dilapidated stretch of East Lacey Boulevard marked by aging motels, auto part stores and empty lots.

The office amenities are a desk, a chair, a phone and a twin bed Klamm sleeps on when he works the graveyard shift.

The most attention Klamm gets is a result of the giant reflective stripes sewn to his uniform.

They are required by a recent law designed to keep vehicles from doing what one of them nearly did to Klamm that day on Highway 99, he said.

The danger is there, especially when the blanket of Tule fog descends of the Valley.

Klamm said he's arrived at many accident scenes on Highway 198, working to haul off smashed vehicles as traffic barrels through the fog a few inches away.

"I've always made a practice of getting that stuff hooked up and off the road before somebody comes along and hits us," Klamm said.

Klamm didn't always tow things for a living.

He hauled in most of his earnings as a crane operator and electrical technician, first in Fresno and later in the Bay Area.

In 1997, Klamm was making $25 to $30 an hour at a Union Oil Company of California facility in the Bay Area when he retired and moved to Hanford to care for his parents, Frankie and Konrad.

Klamm noticed that there wasn't much crane work available. So, since 2000, he's been towing, a skill he picked up at various companies in Fresno before he became a crane operator.

Klamm is resigned to the risks.

He had worse experiences as a taxi cab driver in west Fresno.

During a brief stint in the early 1970s, Klamm said his best friend, Ray, also a taxi driver, was shot and killed while on the job.

After that, Klamm got out of the taxi business for good.

But as a tow truck driver, he sees the same assortment of characters that taxi drivers deal with.

Klamm said he once arrived to find a vehicle with its rear tires burned to the ground.

Turns out the guy had been pouring gasoline in his master brake cylinder instead of brake fluid.

Klamm said the guy seemed genuinely surprised.

"He said, 'It used to work back in Georgia,'" Klamm said.

Klamm's stories of drunken clients play like a theater of the absurd.

He found one guy pouring gas into the radiator. Another was dumping gas into the engine.

Klamm's worst (or perhaps best) story described an incident where he attempted to take a drunk man and his vehicle home.

The man remembered the street he lived on, but couldn't recall the address.

So Klamm meandered along while the guy looked from house to house, trying to recall which one he lived in.

"We went up and down that damn street six times," Klamm said.

Klamm was about to dump the car and driver on the spot, but then "the guy suddenly looked up and said, 'Oh, there's my house right there.'"

"There are people like that," Klamm said.

Klamm said he likes helping people, but also finds them irritating.

What he thinks of the job doesn't much matter, however.

He needs it to "get by," as he put it.

Some employees in Kings County look forward to comfortable pensions and lengthy retirements.

Klamm looks forward to another day on a job that often puts him in the same kind of risk as so-called "first responders" -- fire, medical personnel and law enforcement.

"I would definitely rank it in the top five percent (of dangerous jobs)," said Jeff Hunter, executive director of the California Tow Truck Association.

Hunter said a California law went into effect this year that requires drivers to move into the lane away from a stopped tow truck with its lights flashing.

Hunter thinks motorists are more likely to slow down and respect law enforcement vehicles than tow trucks.

Klamm agreed.

He scoffed at the idea of retirement (He spent most of his Unocal pension money buying his Hanford house).

"Retirement is for people who don't want to work. I'll just keep towing until The Sentinel needs another bundle dropper, I guess," Klamm said with a laugh.

The reporter can be reached at 583-2432

From New Zealand

Good story from The Dominion Post of New Zealand:
By KAY BLUNDELL - The Dominion Post | Tuesday, 04 November 2008

Woman on the pull gives blokes a shock

Tired of sitting at home watching television while her husband was out towing vehicles, Pam Manning decided to become Kapiti Coast's first fully licensed "lady towie".

She was an office manager for 30 years before deciding to sit her HT licence and complete a course to get behind the wheel of one of her husband's tow trucks.

Getting the licence was "a piece of cake". She loves her job and is amused by the reactions she gets when she hops out of the cab.

"You do not often see a woman getting out of a tow truck – women are often rapt and really interested to see a woman doing what is usually a man's job," she said.

"But the men look surprised, ask if I can do the job or if they can help, especially if I am rolling around underneath the truck trying to get the winch rope attached. It is very chivalrous of them, but I just say, 'Don't worry, I have my licence, I know what I am doing.' "

She says she is "not a small girl" and has no problems using raw power to push vehicles into position to be picked up or winching them on to the truck. "I can see no reason why women cannot do it – the only thing a man can probably do is ratchet the tie-down one more notch."

Husband Bruce says he is delighted to have his wife driving trucks. "We have worked as a husband and wife team for 17 years, she has helped with salvages, which rely on trust, especially when a vehicle is 20 metres down a bank.

"There is not much she cannot do, believe me, but she has got more bolshie. She is good at her job, one of the boys. A lot of people like dealing with her at emergencies when people are upset – by the time she has had a laugh with them they are easier to deal with."

Since Mrs Manning got her licence last year, another Kapiti Coast woman has followed suit and got her licence last week.

Everyday Heroes in MA

Kudos to the employees of Pat’s Service Center and Towing! Here's the story from the Worcester Telegram & Gazette:

WORCESTER— A Fall River man who allegedly tried to fool authorities with a phony tattoo is to be arraigned in Central District Court this afternoon on charges involving the robbery of the Digital Federal Credit Union on Shrewsbury Street yesterday.

Wilfred M. Cook, 33, is accused of walking into the 225 Shrewsbury St. bank yesterday about 1 p.m. and handing a note to the teller. The note demanded cash and stated he had a weapon, according to police.

Authorities believe Mr. Cook colored a teardrop tattoo under one of his eyes in an attempt to change his appearance. Later in the day when Mr. Cook was arrested, the phony tattoo was gone.

Mr. Cook ran out of the bank to nearby Casco Street, where he entered the tow yard of Pat’s Service Center and Towing.

“Several of the drivers were there and saw this guy run in,” Detective Capt. Edward J. McGinn Jr. said. “They shouted out for him to stop, but he didn’t. They chased him to the back of the lot, where he tried to jump over a fence.”

Mr. Cook got a little way up the fence, but the tow truck drivers pulled him down. At that point, some cash fell from Mr. Cook’s hands or pants, the captain said.

“The drivers tried to hold the suspect, but he pulled out a knife and swung it at two of them,” Capt. McGinn said. The drivers backed off, and Mr. Cook again tried to scale the fence.

Drivers pulled him down again, prompting Mr. Cook to swing the knife another time. Finally, the suspect was able to climb over the fence.

He jumped into a Nissan Altima and drove off. The tow truck drivers took down the license plate number and passed it on to police.

Detectives said Mr. Cook had his girlfriend’s car and were able to track him down to a Stephens Avenue home.

About 6:50 p.m., police called Mr. Cook, who was inside the home. At first Mr. Cook refused to come out, but after about 20 minutes of negotiating with Detective Sgt. Thomas R. Radula, Mr. Cook agreed to come out.

Mr. Cook is facing assault and robbery charges.


Purpose Wrecker Opens In MO


Purpose Wrecker opened its doors on Oct. 22 at 1732 Prospect Road in Wentzville, MO. Owners Ken and Sue Malpocker welcomed about 120 guests for the event and gave away a 50" plasma TV to Tom Dailey of Cynthiana, KY. Dailey was one of seven customers who purchased a truck at the event and who received an entry in the giveaway. He's pictured below with sales rep Randy Pellow. Congrats!

Purpose Wrecker can be reached by phone at 636-639-9700 or online at www.purposewrecker.com.



Shameful in PA

An example of what NOT to do at an accident scene. Here's the story from www.phillyburbs.com:

MOUNT PLEASANT, Pa. - State police say the owner and three employees of a towing firm plundered $16,000 worth of custom-made knives from a tractor-trailer involved in a fatal Pennsylvania Turnpike crash.

Forty-two-year-old Michael Yanuck, of Scottdale, and three employees of Diamond Towing of Mount Pleasant are charged with theft in the Aug. 23 crash.

The truck's driver was killed when the vehicle veered off a curve and crashed. Diamond is one of 20 companies with a contract to clear wreckage from the turnpike, but its contract is being terminated.

Yanuck and his company have not returned calls for comment.

The truck was hauling knives for Snap-On Tools. Police say the towing employees took boxes of the custom-made knives and passed them out to emergency responders who told police about it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

NC's Towman of the Year Chosen

Congratulations to Scott Johnson of John's Towing in Durham, NC. He was presented with a plaque at the Nov. 1 meeting of the Towing & Recovery Professionals of North Carolina. The distinction is given by the members of the association in recognition of members who have given time and energy for the betterment of the association and who are involved in all areas of the towing industry.


Monday, November 3, 2008

Arrow's 'Back On The Road' 2009 Campaign Begins Today


Arrow Truck Sales' second “Back On The Road” initiative is now underway. Arrow will solicit stories from truckers across the nation who lost their truck, and their livelihood, through unfortunate circumstances beyond their control. The trucker whose story is selected will receive a 2006 Volvo VNL 670, courtesy of Volvo Trucks North America, a one-year work agreement with Heartland Express, as well as other products and services.

Visit www.backontheroad2009.com to make a nomination and complete rules. Nominations will be accepted through Jan. 16, 2009 and the winner will be announced in March.