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Monday, February 9, 2009

Two Too Many Close Calls While Towing

Thankfully, these two tow truck drivers survived their incidents.
Here's the first from MN's Fergus Falls Daily Journal:

Until this past Saturday, Mitch Bock of A1 Anytime Towing and Recovery had never been involved in an accident in his 22 years as an emergency road service operator. His luck changed about 7 p.m. on Jan. 31.

“I’m fortunate that I wasn’t killed,” said Bock while recalling his AT truck being hit by the driver of a Mitsubishi Lancer along Interstate 94, north of WalMart. He’s been driving for A1 Anytime Towing for close to a year.

The driver struck Bock’s tow truck after just missing a state patrol vehicle that was stopped, with flashing lights, between WalMart and the railway overpass along the interstate and near the ethanol plant northwest of Fergus Falls.

Bock had been dispatched to the scene after a vehicle, experiencing icy roads, slid off the road and entered the median. The experienced Bock has often assisted in cases of breakdowns or collisions.

The driver of the Mitsubishi Lancer, an 18-year-old student of Minnesota State University, Moorhead, and native of Two Harbors, was cited by the State Highway Patrol with reckless driving. That driver, as with Bock, escaped injury.

Both the Lancer and tow truck were totaled. Visually, the Lancer took a real hit. Most of the damage to the tow truck took place to the underside of the emergency road service vehicle.

When Bock arrived at the scene, another vehicle had just been pulled from the ditch by Wayne’s Towing. The driver that struck Bock’s tow truck was eastbound, traveling from Moorhead toward Fergus Falls, along Interstate 94.

After the collision, a subsequent crash took place — with one car rear-ending another. The interstate was closed by the state highway patrol for two hours, with vehicles forced to take detours.

“People simply drive too fast and don’t slow down enough when they see flashing lights,” said Bock. Jon Opatz, who with his wife, Debra, owns A1 Anytime Towing and Recovery, agrees.

“Mitch is to be commended for the way he handled this incident, and we’re so very thankful that he wasn’t injured,” Opatz said. Opatz drives tow trucks along with Bock and a part-time employee, John Hanson.

Bock said he feels no ill will toward the driver of the Lancer, but feels the entire incident should be a wake-up call for Minnesota drivers. He commends the State Highway Patrol and other organizations who deliver safety presentations on a regular basis across the state.

Both Opatz and Bock feel that stiffer fines, and getting the word out about these new fines, might make drivers think twice about slowing down when they approach flashing lights along roadways.

Opatz said he’s appreciative of Beyer Towing, a competitor, coming to the assistance of Bock and the A1 Anytime Towing business following the accident along Interstate 94. Support from other towing businesses came to Opatz, in addition to Beyer Towing.

“Safety for everyone can and should be number one,” Bock said.

Tom Hintgen/Daily Journal

And the other from SC's WSOC TV:
On the ground, dazed, his head spinning, Chris Davidson could only think about his 2-year-old son."That's the only thought that was in my mind, what if something happened to me? What would that mean for him?" Davidson said.Davidson is a tow truck driver in Lancaster County. Thursday night, he was trying to tow a broken-down phone company truck on Doc Garris Road south of Lancaster.The Comporium Communications truck had stalled in the road. Two employees had placed orange warning cones nearby and were waving flags to alert passing drivers.As Davidson was under the stalled truck trying to attach his tow cable, he heard a frightening sound."Within a matter of second, I heard a bunch of screaming," he said.Then there was an impact."I felt something hit me on top of the head and just got slammed to the ground. At that point, it became just survival, just trying to get out from that truck as fast as I could," he said.Troopers said 76-year-old John Curry never hit the brakes but drove his pickup truck into the back of a trailer that was attached to the broken-down truck. He was thrown from his pickup and killed.Investigators don't believe Curry had a medical emergency. It's not clear why he never saw the truck in the road in front of him or the cones or the flagmen. The deputy coroner said it's possible the bright late afternoon sun was in his eyes, but officials just aren't sure."He was a loving father. He would do anything to help anyone," said Darrell Curry, John's son.He said his father drove those same back roads his whole life and would've seen the truck and the people in the road ahead of him. He can't understand how this happened."If you've got cones sitting out there, you've got a man with a flag, anybody could see that," Curry said.Moments after the crash, Davidson crawled from beneath the stalled truck. He suffered only a mild concussion.Now he's grateful to be alive but also hurts for Curry’s family."I think that's something I'll carry with me for the rest of my life," he said. "It takes a toll on you."

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