Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hearing Date Set For Alleged Murder of CA Tow Truck Driver

Here's the Merced Sun-Star story:

A May 28 preliminary hearing date has been set in the case of a 20-year-old man accused of shooting a tow truck driver to death.

Merced police believe Anthony Avilez Trammell was the person who killed 41-year-old Randall Armendariz Sr. in a Nov. 24 shooting on Ruby Court. During a preliminary hearing, a judge typically determines whether enough evidence exists to try a suspect on the charges against him.

Trammell appeared briefly in court last week, dressed in a green and white striped jailhouse uniform, the dress code for Norteno gang members in the Merced County Jail. Trammell has been in custody since Nov. 26.

Police believe Armendariz was killed after he confronted Trammell about allegedly stealing a vehicle from Performance Towing, the company the victim worked for. The day Armendariz was killed, one of the company's service vehicles, a white 1989 GMC 1500 pickup, was reported stolen.

Armendariz spotted the stolen vehicle and confronted the alleged thief, police said. Witnesses reported what appeared to be an argument between the victim and another man on Ruby Court, near Carmel Road, before shots rang out.

Officers found Armendariz lying in the road. He'd been shot at least once in the head and was pronounced dead at the scene. The stolen pickup was also found by police at the scene, the driver's side door open and the engine running.

Trammell is being held on suspicion of numerous crimes, including murder, possession of a firearm by a felon and receiving stolen property.

He is being held in lieu of $2.8 million bail.

Reporter Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or vpatton@mercedsun-star.com.

Monday, April 27, 2009

More Info On Today's OH Tow Truck Fatality

An update from the Springfield News-Sun:

SILVERCREEK TWP., Greene County — One man was decapitated and a second man was injured Monday, April 27, in a one-vehicle wreck on U.S. 35 that occurred apparently after a tire failed, the Ohio Highway Patrol said.

Michael A. Justice, 43, of Dayton, was killed when he was ejected from the tow truck he was driving, two miles east of Ohio 72, just before noon, said Patrol Lt. Marty Fellure.

Justice's passenger, Terry Downey, 47, also of Dayton, was flown by medical helicopter to Miami Valley Hospital, where he remained a patient Monday night.

JJustice was eastbound when the front driver’s side tire blew and sent the vehicle across the left lane into the median, Fellure said. The truck tumbled and came to rest in the westbound lanes of U.S. 35.

Downey’s wife, Renee, said her husband hired Justice of Justice Towing to take him from Dayton to Hillsboro to pick up a van.

Renee Downey said her husband had planned to follow Justice’s truck in a separate vehicle, but changed his mind.

She said she was “freaked out” when she learned about the crash.

“I’m six weeks away from delivering our child; that made it even more traumatizing,” she said.

Terry Downey suffered a spinal injury, but is expected to fully recover, she said.

Don Moody of Chillicothe was driving west on U.S. 35 when he came upon the wreck minutes after it happened and approached the scene to assist the victims.

“There was nothing I could do. ... I’ll probably have nightmares about it,” said Moody.

Westbound traffic was shut down for three hours while officials investigated the scene, he said.

It’s unclear if the occupants were wearing their seat belts, Fellure said.

Officials are investigating whether speed, alcohol or drugs played a part in the crash, according to a Highway Patrol report.

OH Tow Truck Driver Identified

Here's an update from WHIO.com:

GREENE COUNTY, Ohio -- The driver killed in a tow truck crash earlier today has been identified.

Michael Justice, 43, of Dayton was driving eastbound on U.S. Route 35 bypass around 11:50 a.m., about two miles east of State Route 72. The Ohio State Highway Patrol said the front left tire of the truck blew out, causing the truck to cross the median and flip over.

Justice was ejected from the vehicle and died in the crash. His passenger, 47-year-old Terry Downey, was taken to Miami Valley Hospital by CareFlight in unknown condition.

The crash had U.S. 35 shut down for several hours -- as of 3:30 p.m., the westbound lanes and one eastbound lane were reportedly still closed.

Season 2 of "Wrecked" Starts May 21

Check out the SPEED TV page here.

AZ Man Arrested After Stealing Repo Man's Tow Truck

From the Arizona Daily Star:
The Arizona Department of Public Safety says a man who reportedly stole a flatbed tow truck after the operator repossessed his vehicle led officers on a 70-mile chase that ended early Saturday in Globe.
A DPS statement says 30-year-old Darin Matricia of Mesa pulled a knife on the truck driver, stole the truck and was chased by Phoenix police.
Police stopped pursuing the loaded truck and called in a helicopter, whose pilot followed it onto eastbound U.S. 60 near Gilbert Road, where DPS officers took up the chase.
Officers flattened the truck’s tires in Apache Junction, but Matricia slowly drove another 50 miles to Globe. DPS says he was threatening to hurt himself and talking on a cell phone to a sergeant.
Matricia was finally boxed in and arrested.

File Under "What Not To Do"

From NJBiz.com:
A Sicklerville couple that owned a towing and auto repair business has been sentenced for collecting more than $50,000 in sales tax from 1991 to 2007, but never turning it over to the state, said state Attorney General Anne Milgram.

Camden County Court Judge Irwin J. Snyder sentenced James Hendricks, 52, to 364 days in jail, followed by probation, while his wife, Mary Ann Clark-Hendricks, 46, was sentenced to five years of probation, Milgram said last week. The couple also will pay $51,560 in restitution, plus penalties and interest.

Last October, Hendricks pleaded guilty to theft by failure to make required disposition of property received and failure to remit sales taxes, and Clark-Hendricks pleaded guilty to third-degree theft by failure to make required disposition of property received, Milgram said.

The company rang up more than $960,000 in sales from 1991 through 2007, but the defendants only remitted a total of $1,046 of sales tax to the state during that period, Milgram said.

OH Tow Truck Driver Ejected, Dies In Auto Accident

Our condolences to the family and acquaintances of this as-yet unnamed tow truck driver, who was killed in an auto accident. Our thoughts are with his passenger. Here's the Springfield News-Sun story:

By Valerie Lough
Staff Writer
Updated 2:27 PM Monday, April 27, 2009

SILVERCREEK TWP., Greene County — One man was killed and another injured after a tow truck crashed just before noon today, April 27, on U.S. 35, two miles east of State route 72.

A blown tire is being blamed for the single-vehicle crash in which the driver was ejected from the truck and decapitated, according to Lt. Marty Fellure, Ohio State Highway Patrol.

A passenger was flown to Miami Valley Hospital, said Fellure.

Officials are still working to identify the victims, but Fellure said both were adult males.

Westbound traffic is expected to be shut down for three hours while officials investigate the scene, he said.

The driver of the truck was headed east on U.S. 35 when the front driver’s side tire blew and sent the vehicle across the left lane into the median, said Fellure.

The truck tumbled and came to a rest in the westbound lanes of U.S. 35, he said.

Investigators do not know if the occupants were wearing their seat belts.

Contact this reporter at (937) 328-0360 or vlough@coxohio.com.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Everyday Tow Hero In FL

Kudos to this observant (and unnamed) tow truck driver! Here's the story from the Tampa Tribune:
TAMPA - An astute tow-truck driver helped Tampa police uncover a chop shop for
stolen vehicle parts operating in the Swann Estates neighborhood, police said.
The truck driver and a civilian employee with the police department were
recovering a stolen Honda on South Dale Mabry Highway and Swann Avenue about
10:39 a.m. Thursday when the truck driver noticed skid marks in the roadway
indicating the car had been pushed, police said.
The two followed the skid marks back about a half-mile to 708 S. Lois Ave., where they spotted parts to Hondas and Acuras and called detectives, police said.
Today, police said the chop shop – where stolen cars are stripped of their parts to be sold – also contained a red Honda, a tag and registration from another Honda, and a Colorado license tag from an Acura. Police charged three men in connection with the operation. Each is charged with felony grand theft of a motor vehicle. Erick Pagani, 19, who listed the house as his address, also is charged with felony burglary and felony selling or possession of a vehicle with altered information. He was held without bail at the Orient Road Jail today because the arrest violates his probation in another case.
Yoel Alonso-Rimada, 19, of Tampa, also is charged with felony burglary. He was released from jail on $4,000 bail, records show. The third man arrested, Calberone Robinson, 21, of Tampa, was released from jail on $2,000 bail, records show.
Public records show the house is owned by Lucille Kuske of Palm Harbor. Reached by phone, Kuske was astonished by the arrests and allegations.
"Oh, my goodness," she said, declining to comment further until she knew more about the situation.
Reporter Valerie Kalfrin can be reached at (813) 259-7800

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Hand-Held Cell Use While Driving A No-No Now

As of March 2009, several states and provinces have enacted laws restricting or banning the use of hand-held cellular phones. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Governors Highway Safety Association, and Transport Canada :

  • The states of California , Connecticut , New Jersey , New York , Utah and Washington and the District of Columbia and the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador , Nova Scotia , and Quebec have all passed laws that ban the use of hand-held cellular phones while driving.

  • The states of Illinois , Massachusetts , Michigan , New Mexico , Ohio and Pennsylvania authorize local governments to ban drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving. Localities in other states may not need specific statutory authority to ban the use of cell phones.

  • In Utah , and in Canada , drivers can be charged with a more serious offense of dangerous or careless driving if they commit some other moving violation, other than speeding, while talking on a hand-held cell phone.

  • Several states including Louisiana have enacted restrictions on the use of hand-held cell phones by novice drivers.

For a more complete, up-to-date list of restrictions and fines associated with cell phone use while driving, visit the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety at http://www.iihs.org/laws/cellphonelaws.aspx, the Governors Highway Safety Association at http://www.ghsa.org/html/stateinfo/laws/cellphone_laws.html, or Transport Canada at: http://www.tc.gc.ca/RoadSafety/SafeDrivers/distractions/index.htm.

TRAA Will Fly You Anywhere In The U.S.

TRAA is sponsoring a contest for towers to sign up as many regular members as they can before July 1st, 2009. The person recruiting the highest number of new members will receive two free airline roundtrip tickets anywhere in the U.S. The winner will also be featured in the National Towing News as the winner of the 2009 "Find and Fly Membership Drive." Ask those you refer to list your name on the application so that you will receive credit for the referral. Membership applications can be found on the TRAA web site www.towserver.net. To have an application faxed, contact Juanita Martin at 800-728-0136 or at towserver@aol.com.

Hearing Rescheduled For CA Tow Company Owner

From the Merced Sun-Star:

A Monday preliminary hearing in the case of RTS Towing owner Randal Loy Wright has been rescheduled for April 24.

Dressed in olive slacks and a casual blue shirt, Wright, 58, appeared briefly in court on Monday. Commissioner Ralph Cook postponed the hearing because of motions which still need to be filed in the case.

Wright is accused of unlawfully taking a Mercedes Benz G55 from Mercedes Benz of Fresno sometime between Dec. 9 and Dec. 18.

In another case, Wright is accused of contacting the California Highway Patrol and making a fake stolen auto report.

Tom Pheiff, Wright's attorney, said his client continues to maintain his innocence in both cases.

His wife, Karen Rene Wright, has been missing since Feb. 9, after making a visit to San Felipe, Mexico, where the couple has vacation homes.

Wright is free on bail and hasn't been named as a suspect in his wife's disappearance.

High-Vis Vests Keep Tow Truck Drivers Safer, Too

Here's a column by Kimberly Edds of the OC Register about the federal regulations on safety vests that went into effect in November:

Drunken drivers have a thing for flashing lights. Fire engines and police cars have lots of flashing lights to tell people to get out of their way. Not a great combo when firefighters and cops on are on the side of the highway trying to help someone.

But to be fair, apparently sober drivers are attracting to shiny flashing things, too. At least 50 firefighters, rescue personnel and police officers were hit by vehicles while working along the road last year, according to statistics compiled by ResponderSafety.com.

A federal regulation went into effect in November requiring public safety personnel to wear high-visibility safety vests while working on or near roadways. Superman has his red cape and blue tights. Firefighter Jake and Policeman Perry get fluorescent yellow-green or orange-red vests with reflective stripes.

Anyone – cops, firefighters, EMS crews, tow truck drivers and other first responders – working on a federally funded highway have to wear a high-visibility vest.

Now, firefighters wear yellow turnout pants and coats. Yellow seems pretty bright to me, but apparently there are a lot of colorblind drivers on America's highways or people just don't seem to get it. You're supposed to avoid the red flashing lights and the really busy people running around in yellow.

Walking around looking like a neon cop that escaped from your kid's Lego set isn't going to win you any beauty contests.

Then again, the men and women on the roadside aren't out strutting their stuff on the catwalk at Fashion Week. They're there because someone is having a really bad day. Hit them and now you have a whole mess of people having a really bad day – and you can add your name to the list.

Lots of cop shops have had the vest requirements on the books for years – but like most rules, they tend to be bent, if not broken, as soon as they are written down. Someone gets hurt and then everyone suddenly remembers the rule.

Pull up YouTube and you'll get an up-close-and-personal view of just how dangerous it is to be dealing with crooks or accident victims on the side of the freeway. It's not pretty. People get hurt and people die. If a little bit of neon can help prevent that, put it on.

Some vests feature breakaway sides in case the vest gets caught on a passing car will drag the vest not Policeman Perry or Firefighter Jake down the 405.

Firefighters can leave the Day-Glo vests in the fire truck if they are fighting a fire or dealing with hazardous materials. The vests don't mesh with standards set by the National Fire Protection Association, the folks who set the safety bar for firefighters. Not that they want firefighters to be targets for drunken or distracted drivers – but they also want to keep firefighters from getting burned and melted.

Curiosity killed the cat. But curiosity could kill a very nice tow truck driver with a wife and kids at home if you can't manage to keep your eyes on the road and not on the flashing lights on the side of the highway. If you need to know about it, it'll be on the 11 p.m. news.

Contact the writer: 714-796-7829 or kedds@ocregister.com

SC Tow Truck Driver and Wife In Custody

Here's the story from the Augusta Chronicle:
A South Carolina couple accused of intentionally running over and killing an Augusta man in the path of their tow truck surrendered Tuesday at the Columbia County Detention Center.

Michael Faron Brown, 27, and his wife, Victoria Brown, 21, turned themselves in about 6 p.m., Columbia County sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris said.

The Browns are charged with murder in William Jacobs' death Thursday night.

Mr. Jacobs, 64, was hit by a wrecker outside the Martinez home of Lidie Joseph Clements on Roswell Drive. He later died of his injuries.

Police said Mr. Jacobs and Mr. Clements saw the Browns trying to repossess Mr. Clements' Dodge truck.

According to a Columbia County sheriff's report, Mr. Clements said Mr. Jacobs' van was parked between Mr. Clements' truck and the road. The wrecker pulled forward and back, damaging both vehicles while trying to retrieve the truck.

Mr. Clements said he approached the wrecker to speak to the driver, identified as Mr. Brown.

The wrecker sped forward toward Mr. Clements, according to the police report.

Mr. Clements said he jumped out of the way to avoid being hit. When he turned around, Mr. Clements said, he saw that the wrecker had driven over Mr. Jacobs. The man and woman in the tow truck drove away.

Mr. Jacobs was taken to Doctors Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Police issued arrest warrants Saturday charging the Browns with murder. Mr. Brown also is charged with aggravated assault with a motor vehicle, and Mrs. Brown is also charged with battery.

No bond has been set, Capt. Morris said.

Reach Valerie Rowell at 868-1222, ext. 110, or valerie.rowell@augustachronicle.com.

Remember: Wall of the Fallen Needs Your Help

On Sept. 9, 2006, the “Wall of the Fallen” statue and memorial wall were unveiled at the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum in Chattanooga, Tennessee. In 2007, the names of 94 men and women who lost their lives in the line of service in the towing and recovery industry were placed on the wall. Another 61 bronze name plaques were added in 2008.
This year, the ceremony is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 19. In order to gather a comprehensive list of towers who have died doing the job they loved, Ken Cruse, chairman of the Wall of the Fallen committee, has requested the help of the towing community.
Names of fallen towers should be submitted to the ITRHFM (International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame Museum), 3315 Broad Street, Chattanooga TN USA
37408. In order to ensure timely delivery of the bronze nameplates for the wall, please send in all names before July 1. Forms may be downloaded from the website www.wallofthefallen.com. There is no charge for this tribute.
For more information, please call 423-267-3132.

Monday, April 13, 2009

More On "Predatory Towing" Legislation in OR

From KUOW.org:
When you're stuck by the side of the road, few sights are more welcome than a tow truck. But towing companies are also in the business of towing cars that aren't broken down they're just parked in the wrong place. This so–called patrol towing is controversial. Oregon lawmakers are moving forward on a bill that's meant to cut down on the number of people who are towed against their will.

Nobody likes to have their car towed. That includes Chris Watkins. He says he made what turned out to be a $140 mistake when he was moving into a new apartment a few years ago:

Watkins: "Parked right up in the front in the fire lane, walked into my apartment, unloaded all my stuff, cracked open a beer, and watched my car go part the back window. Didn't do that again."

Watkins learned from his mistake. And now he's profiting from the mistakes of others. He's a driver for Sergeant's Towing, one of the largest patrol towing companies in Oregon. Patrol towing is when a property manager contracts with a towing company to tow vehicles that aren't properly parked. Some call it predatory towing because tow truck drivers are typically paid on commission. That gives them plenty of incentive to hook up as many vehicles as possible. That's how Chris Watkins makes money. He's putting his wife through grad school. And maybe it's because there's a reporter riding along, but today Watkins is taking it easy. He pulls into a lot and after a quick glance, he's on his way:

Watkins: "It's pretty easy to tell who belongs, because most of the people that belong here back their cars in so you can see their permits pretty easy, sticking right out."

But at another northeast Portland apartment complex, Watkins spots a car parked on the sidewalk. That's an obvious no–no, but just as Watkins backs up, the driver scurries out, keys in hand.

Watkins: "They know they're not supposed to but they'll just let it sit there until you act like you're going to do something with it, then they'll come running out. It's a game. Usually I end up winning, though."

Watkins says he's careful to tow away only legitimate targets. But advocates of stricter towing laws say not all drivers are so conscientious. Wally Duncan of Hillsboro is a typical example. He told a House committee about the time his son–in–law's car disappeared overnight from his Hillsboro apartment complex. Duncan says the tow truck company demanded a thousand dollars for the vehicle's return and eventually sold it at auction.

Duncan: "I fumed over this for six years just to be able to say something to somebody about it. It is a great relief."

Others testified with similar tales of woe. They hope a new round of regulations would put a stop to cases of wrongful towing. The measure they're pushing would require drivers to take photos of vehicles they tow to prove they were parked wrongfully. It would also make tow truck drivers contact a property manager before towing a car off their lot. But the measure doesn't go far enough, says anti–towing activist Sean Cruz.

Sean Cruz: "Until we have an end to commission paid tow trucks drivers deciding at the scene whether they're going to tow a vehicle or not, that problem is going to continue."

The bill did originally include a ban on paying tow truck drivers by commission. That was stripped out, along with a proposed two hour waiting period before a tow truck could haul away a wrongfully parked car. That idea didn't sit well with towing companies:

Preston: "My first reaction was, I laughed."

Steve Preston is President of Sergeant's Towing.

Preston: "The way it was written, anybody could park on anybody's property at any time for any reason for two hours, and not have to worry about ever being towed."

The bill's sponsor, Democratic Representative Chuck Riley, says the changes came after lengthy discussions with towing companies and property managers:

Riley: "We wanted to make sure that we solve the problems without actually causing any harm to the legitimate towers who are doing really important work."

Riley insists the bill still contains enough protections for vehicle owners. One Portland suburb has gone even further. The city of Fairview banned patrol towing altogether earlier this year. I'm Chris Lehman in Salem.

SC Tow Truck Driver and Wife Wanted For Murder in GA

Here's the story from NBCAugusta.com:
MARTINEZ, Ga.- The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office has issued and arrest warrant for a tow truck driver and his wife after an Augusta man was killed in Martinez last week.

Deputies say Michael and Victoria Brown will be charged with murder. They are from Lexington, South Carolina.

NBC Augusta 26 News first told you William Jacobs was hit and killed by a car on Dresden Drive Thursday night.

Investigators now say Jacobs was run over by the tow truck Michael Brown was driving. Victoria Brown was also inside the truck.

Officers say Jacobs was visiting friends whose car was being repossessed. They tell us Jacobs and another man were trying to get the Browns' attention because the tow truck was damaging another car parked in the driveway during the repossession.

Eyewitnesses say the Browns ignored their pleas and sped forward, running over Jacobs. Jacobs later died at the hospital.

Michael Brown also faces an aggravated assault charge

Friday, April 10, 2009

Heavy Lifters Can Boost Rescues

Here's a good story from The Daily News Record of Harrisonburg, VA:
By Pete DeLea

HARRISONBURG - In most crashes, tow trucks are dispatched to haul away the crumpled vehicles. But soon, some area heavy-tow-truck drivers might be joining the rescue efforts. A two-day training exercise held Tuesday and Wednesday at Rockingham Scrap Metal on North Liberty Street was designed to show rescuers how they can work with heavy tow trucks to help free cars pinned under buses and tractor-trailers.

Instructors say a trained driver can make the extrication process safer for rescuers and allow emergency personnel to get to patients in a matter of minutes, not hours. "Their equipment is a lot faster than ours," said John Burruss, an instructor for the Virginia Department of Fire Programs. "They're going to be lifesavers." During training exercises Wednesday, the 30-member regional heavy-rescue team composed of firefighters from Harrisonburg, Staunton, Waynesboro and Augusta and Rockingham counties were handed three challenges. All the challenges included a car being stuck underneath old Harrisonburg City Transit buses, which were donated for the exercise.

Bus Crashes Car
In one challenge, firefighters responded to a bus overturned on a compact car, crushing the roof and trapping the driver. "Sometimes it looks unrealistic, but I've been doing it for 30 years and at some point, these [firefighters] are going to be in a situation with this degree of difficulty," said Burruss, who added they don't get enough experience on the job. "If we only do this two or three times a year, we're not any good at it." For more than an hour, firefighters used whatever was on their trucks to secure the bus and attempt to lift it off the car. After more than an hour, the car wasn't free. That's when a heavy tow truck stepped in and helped lift the bus off the car. "The equipment we have will lift it, but it will take us forever," Burruss said. "We're learning how these trucks can make it much easier to lift. "In 10 minutes, it's going to do what it took us 90 minutes to do."
Rare But Possible
Lt. Scott Allison of the Harrisonburg Fire Department said these incidents don't happen often. But, when they do, Allison said it's usually a result of a car rear-ending a tractor-trailer on the interstate. In such cases, the car often is pinned underneath the truck. "These situations are pretty rare," said Allison. But he said they are dangerous situations because the trucks or buses can topple over on rescuers as they are attempting to secure or lift the vehicle. "They're low-frequency but high-risk." Kenny McKenzie, owner of Trans Tech Towing in Broadway, donated the use of four trucks and seven employees. He said the cross-training exercise will give his crew the experience to help in life-or-death situations. "We want the firefighters to have confidence in what we can do, so when they need our assistances in extrication they will call on us," McKenzie said. Contact Pete DeLea at 574-6278 or pdelea@dnronline.com

Another Unnamed Everyday Towing Hero In CA

Here's the story from the San Jose Mercury News:

A vigilant tow truck driver helped Palo Alto police snag a pair of teens suspected of breaking into two houses Tuesday afternoon.

The first break-in was reported on the 2300 block of Santa Catalina Street at about 3 p.m., police spokesman Dan Ryan said. The burglars allegedly used a tool found in the house's backyard to bust a window, then made off with a backpack full of electronic equipment, including an iPod and video games.

Soon after, residents on the nearby 1100 block of Oregon Avenue came home to find two teens apparently trying to break into their house. The suspects ran away, and the residents described them to police.

A National tow truck driver licensed by the city heard the report on a police scanner as he was driving around, Ryan said. As he passed Greer Park, he saw two youths matching the burglars' descriptions and called authorities.

Officers responded and arrested two boys from East Palo Alto, one 15 and one 13. The backpack full of electronic equipment was recovered, and the youths were later released to their parents' custody.

Ryan said there has been a rash of residential burglaries in the past few months along the Oregon Expressway corridor. Investigators will look into whether the suspects were connected with any of the others.

"Once again it was great reporting by both the neighbors who discovered these kids, and also by the tow truck driver," Ryan said. "We're thrilled that we were able to catch them with citizens' help."

Read the April 8 post about the other unnamed Everyday Towing Hero in CA here.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Farewell, Friend

Our condolences to the family and acquaintance of Cecil Hayes of Dalton, GA, who passed away on Feb. 17 after a massive heart attack. Hayes owned Dalton Wrecker for 37 years.

Here's the message that was sent to us by his family:
"Cecil was a local hero of sorts. He employed several young boys over the 37 years he ran Dalton Wrecker. These boys soon turned into men of strong moral character under his leadership, therefore strengthening the community one young person at a time.

"He also always had a helping hand to offer those in need. This connection to his community showed greatly at the funeral services. Local firemen, police and many wrecker companies from as far as 50 miles away took time from their businesses to show their support during the funeral procession. One wrecker driver said, 'I didn't know Cecil personally, but I have always heard wonderful things about him and I wanted to be here.' That says a lot about the kind of man he was.

"Only one thing meant more to Cecil than his wreckers and that was family. He and his wife, Ruby, had a strong and lasting marriage of 48 years. He ran Dalton Wrecker with his two sons, Cecil, Jr. and Jimmy, who plan to continue on in honor of their father. Their hope is to continue to impact the small town of Dalton in the same way as their father always has and to run the family company with the same honest integrity. Last, but not least, are his grandchildren whom he adored. He always took the time, no matter how busy he was, to show each of his three granddaughters just how much they meant to him.

"This loss shows us how much of an impact a wrecker driver has on all the people he meets every day. His community depends greatly on him and his ability to show up and save the day when trouble strikes. Our Wrecker Man will be greatly missed."
-Anne Hayes

Everyday Towing Hero In CA

Kudos to this unnamed (yet again!) tow truck driver who assisted police with the arrest of a man suspected of planning to kidnap a 14-year old girl.
Here's the San Jose Mercury News story:

FREMONT — With an assist from a tow-truck driver, police arrested a Hayward man Saturday afternoon on suspicion of trying to kidnap a 14-year-old Fremont girl.

The driver was in the vicinity of Paseo Padre Parkway and Siward Drive in north Fremont about 12:20 p.m. when he saw the girl running away from a black Lincoln limousine, Sgt. Chris Mazzone said.

As the limo pulled away without the girl, the tow-truck driver followed it one block to Fremont Boulevard and snapped a picture of the state limousine permit posted in the back of the car, Mazzone said. The car did not have a license plate.

The driver then drove back to find the girl and call police.

The girl, who had been walking along Paseo Padre with two friends, told police that the limo driver pulled up next to her on Paseo Padre while she had stopped on the sidewalk to tie her shoelace, Mazzone said. She said that the driver opened the passenger side door, unbuckled his seat belt, leaned toward her and said something to the extent of "Get your ass in the car."

"The victim ran from the vehicle because she thought he was trying to kidnap her," Mazzone said.

Police used the permit photographed by the tow-truck driver to determine that the car was registered to a limousine service in Santa Clara, Mazzone said. Officers contacted the company and had it dispatch the limo driver for a fake pick up on Thornton Avenue where Fremont police were waiting.

Officers arrested Ali Mohammed Alieltaib, 47, of Hayward after he was identified by both the girl and the tow driver, Mazzone said. Alieltaib told police that he was on his way back from a class at Devry. He recalled seeing the tow truck in the vicinity of the incident, but didn't recall ever seeing the girl.

Well-Respected FL Wrecker Driver Honored

Our condolences to the family and acquaintances of Thomas Jeff Black. The 48-year old died on April 2 at his home in Middleburg, FL.
Here's the First Coast News story about how he was honored:

JACKSONVILLE, FL -- One by one, the tow trucks pulled into a tow lot on the Westside of Jacksonville.

One woman yelled above the roar of the engines, "We got almost 40 trucks coming out here today."

Tow truckers from dozens of Jacksonville wrecker companies gathered for one man, Thomas Jeff Black.

Black, 48, a long-time wrecker driver in Jacksonville, died last Thursday at his Middleburg home.

He was working underneath his van that was up on blocks.

The blocks and wood gave way on the soggy soil, crushing Black underneath. Friends say he died instantly.

Black's 4-year-old daughter found him, put band-aids on the blood on his face, and sat with him until a neighbor came to help.

Black's fellow wrecker drivers wanted to do something special to honor him, so they organized a funeral procession of tow trucks.

Tuesday afternoon, truck driver Dean Hagins told First Coast News, "If anybody could get a car towed, Jeff Black would be the one to do it." Hagins had known Black for years.

Troy Bostick said Black got him started in towing and he's been doing it now for nine years.

"I don't think there's one wrecker driver who could do the work Jeff Black does," Bostick said. "He would be replacing three wrecker drivers."

Tuesday afternoon, wrecker drivers swapped stories about Black. He was a man they all admired.

Hagins said, "I've never seen him take a lunch break. That's how much I've seen him work. He's just a really nice guy."

"He'd do anything for you and wouldn't ask for a dime," Bostick said. "He was a hell of a guy."

Looking at all the trucks, Black's son, Tommy, got a little choked up.

"I didn't actually expect this many," Tommy Black said. "It really touches my heart. It shows a lot of people did love him in this town."

As the convoy of wreckers pulled onto Lenox Avenue, the drivers turned on the truck lights and started honking the horns.

The 30-some trucks rolled down the road, traveled up I-95, and slowly proceeded along N. Main Street to Black's funeral.

Again, the horns blew.

Mourners on the side of the road waved. Some cried.

Hagins said, "He's going to be well-missed. He's just a hard worker."

Definition Of A Bad Day

From The (TN) Chattanoogan:
Tow Truck Driver Finds Burned Car Is His Own
posted April 7, 2009

A tow truck driver who was sent to haul away a burned car found it was his own.

Ben Andrews said he had just learned that his 2000 Cadillac Escalade had been taken when he was dispatched to E. 39th Street.

Police had found a burning Cadillac on E. 39th. The fire department put out the blaze, but the car was totally destroyed.

It was on cinder blocks and the tires were gone.

The burned car had a Cadillac tag in front and a Cadillac trailer hitch in the rear - just like the vehicle stolen from the two truck driver.

MI Tower On The Mend After Jan. Accident

I posted a story in mid-January about Vic Potter, a MI tow boss who was hit while working on the side of the road. Click here to read that post.
It was good to read that he's recuperating well these days! Here's the story from the Battle Creek Enquirer:
MARSHALL -- He talks like he's in a hurry, but Marshall School Board President Vic Potter is pacing himself as he recovers from an accident that occurred Jan. 14.

Potter, 55, was hit by a car on icy roads while attempting to hook up a vehicle to his tow truck on I-69 just north of N Drive North. Nearly three months later, after eight broken ribs and a broken femur, pelvis, and collar bone, Potter sits behind the desk at his business, Bud's Towing.

It's morning, in the second hour of his part-time work day. Lots of things have changed since before the accident, and now he's adjusting from 10-hour days to a 10-hour week.

"I can't drive a truck yet," he said. "I can't turn a wrench."

But he can do a lot more than doctors expected, after being hit by a car going 48 miles per hour. He can drive to and from work and physical therapy, and walk with a walker.

"I attribute my recovery to three things," he said. "Good doctors, my determination and the Good Lord looking out for me."

He also credits his active, healthy lifestyle.

"First of all, I don't drink or smoke," Potter said. "I've worked out for the last 40 years, lifting weights in my basement every other day. ... The doctors said I had an extra layer of muscle tissue and bone mass that saved my life. It acted as a cushion."

Potter spent seven days in a coma and was in trauma care for a total of 14 days at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo. He recalls the moment he awoke for the first time.

"When I first woke up, my wife and son were not there yet," he said. "Nobody was in the room with me. And a voice came over me and said, 'You're back where you belong now.'"

He can't explain it, but Potter knows he heard that voice.

"I'm not overly religious, but I believe in God."

He said many area church congregations were praying for him to get well.

Potter had to stay in bed while his pelvis healed.

"I couldn't roll over for seven weeks," he said, adding that after two weeks in the hospital, he moved to Tendercare in Marshall.

He said rumors spread quickly in Marshall, and that his 14-year-old daughter Mariah was told he had died in a car crash before she found out he was badly injured."

In this town, word travels pretty fast," said Potter, a lifelong Marshall resident. "The whole town knew about it 20 minutes after it happened."

Living in a close-knit community like Marshall has its blessings, too. While in the hospital, Potter had 3,018 hits on the Caring Bridge Web site that his son Victor updated daily, and while in Tendercare he received 951 cards.

"It was a nice outreach from everybody," Potter said. "It kept my attitude good. When you're in a situation like that, attitude is half the battle."

After 36 years on the job, Potter had never been hit before.

"I remember being there," he recalled. "You keep your ears open. Usually you can hear a car sliding and spinning out, but I didn't hear it that day."

As for getting back in a tow truck, he might just take the advice of his wife, Sandra, and kids, who prefer he play it safe.

"I'm debating whether to go back out on the road again," he said. "Last year we had two trucks hit on the highway, with pretty extensive damage. This year, I got hit. The point is, it's dangerous out there."

Darby Prater can be reached at 966-0589 or dprater@gannett.com.

Monday, April 6, 2009

A CA Whale Tale

Kudos to Bill Scribner of North County Recovery on this unusual tow!
Here's the story from the San Jose Mercury News:

SANTA CRUZ -- Friday's removal of a dead whale carcass from a tiny cove near Its Beach was loaded with dire possibilities, and onlookers whispered predictions of explosions, a breaking body, a messy fall.

But thanks to an experienced tow truck driver and others, the 25-foot whale was hoisted from a rocky cove, up the cliff and onto a flatbed truck for a trip to the city dump -- smooth as the bay on a still summer morning.

By 7:30 a.m., a large crowd had gathered on the West Cliff pathway just west of Its Beach, gazing at the 25-foot California gray whale yearling as a tow truck driver and others slowly orchestrated its rise from the cove and up the side of the cliff, scraping through flowering ice plant.

Two large leather straps had been placed around the 2-ton yearling, and its body sagged at both ends as it rose.

But it did not explode; it did not fall apart. It was placed gently on a flatbed, wrapped in blue tarp and then it was gone, down West Cliff Drive toward the Dimeo Lane landfill, a police cruiser following.

"That was awesome," said Kirsten Sharnee, who was among the crowd, holding her 4-year-old daughter, Alesca, in one hand and a camera in the other. Sharnee said she dropped off her 7-year-old daughter at school and ran down to see how they would remove the whale.

The dead gray whale was spotted floating near the

wharf early Wednesday and at noon towed a mile out to sea. But it returned that evening, washing up into the small cove.

Wharf Supervisor Dan Buecher said officials hoped to tow it farther out to sea Friday, but a reef, rocks and sizeable waves would have made that dangerous.

Some onlookers Friday said the whale should be left alone, or towed to sea in a natural burial.

But federal marine authorities and others called the carcass a health hazard and it certainly was fast becoming an olfactory one. The cove was too small to allow the whale to be buried there. The city hired the same North County Recovery and Towing rig and driver they hire to haul out cars that go off the wharf, he said.

Buecher was relieved Friday to see the fluke of the whale disappearing down West Cliff Drive.

"It held together; it was wonderful," he said. "We had a good team out there."

The whale will be buried at the city landfill, Buecher said, saying that at least that was a burial "next to the sea."

"And they'll give me a bill," he said. "We have to pay for it by the pound."

The removal will cost the city a little more than $1,200, he said, which includes a disposal fee of 7 cents per pound for the 8,260 pound whale and $700 for the tow truck. Other than that, wharf employees did not incur overtime, he said, and spent about $15 on gas in a city boat for the attempt to tow it back to sea.

Lab scientists had wanted to perform a necropsy on the yearling female, which had no obvious signs of recent trauma on its body, but they were unable to do that in the populated area and tiny cove where the whale washed up.

Without a full necropsy, it is unlikely that blubber and blood samples taken Thursday would reveal the cause of the mammal's death, marine biology student Robin McClenahan said.

Lab officials said Friday the whale was no longer fresh enough to get good evidence from it, and that there were liability and other issues making an examination at the landfill difficult.

"It's unfortunate, but it's all about the beach it lands on," said Teri Sigler, who coordinates the lab's work for the California Marine Mammal Stranding Network.

Joe Rodgers, a longtime Santa Cruz boat captain and marine surveyor, said he spotted a whale that size this week several times, going back and forth across the bay, seemingly looking for its mother.

Onlooker Bob Davidson of Santa Cruz said it was kind of sad to see the dead whale after a recent trip to Laguna de San Ignacio off the Baja California Peninsula and seeing and touching whales that size.

"It was amazing; they are so friendly," Davidson said. "They come right up to the boats. I saw one about this size right together with its mom."

For others, Friday was the closest they had ever come to a whale.

Jeremy Cain of Scotts Valley said he came to West Cliff for a run and stopped to see the whale, after hearing a news report that it had washed up on the beach. He said it seemed more natural to take it out to sea.

"It seems a little sacrilegious to take a beautiful gray whale to the dump," he said. "But I understand if it's too dangerous to take it out to sea."

Gray whales are in the midst of their annual migration from Mexican to Alaskan waters and are traveling relatively close to the Central Coast.

Kimo Peterson of Hawaii said he thought the carcass was going to break up, which, as he pointed out, would have been "very stinky."

"But it went well," he said. "They did a very good job."

Bill Scribner of North County Recovery orchestrated the whale rising, and he shrugged off the praise, attributing it to 25 years on the job.

He has lifted a lot of things in those 25 years, he said, but never before a whale.

But he did once tow an elephant seal from the beach at Ano Nuevo State Reserve, he said, plus the truck and trailer that got stuck in the sand trying to do it.

Scribner, 52, has lifted several fallen horses too, plus many cars from the water and other places and some big rigs from Highway 17.

"If it can be lifted, hopefully we can figure out a way to do it," Scribner said.

He said he was relieved it didn't break up or slam into the railing along West Cliff Drive as they hauled it over.

"I'm glad it worked out," he said. "It wouldn't have been very pleasant had it been there much longer."

Farewell, Friend

Our condolences to the family and acquaintances of Evelyn Jean Haymond of Fairmont, WV. Here's her obituary from The Record Delta:

Evelyn Jean Haymond, 74, of Fairmont passed away Tuesday evening, March 31, 2009 at her residence surrounded by her family. She was born in Buckhannon, August 20, 1934, a daughter of the late Vaden and Helen Burr Clark.

Evelyn was the retired office manager of Hardman’s Exxon and Wrecker Service of Fairmont, later becoming Brady’s Exxon and Towing Service. She, along with her husband was the former owner’s of Haymond’s Wrecker Service in Fairmont for many years. She was a member of the Eldora United Methodist and the Order of the Eastern Star, Chapter 34 of Fairmont and was an active member of the Osiris Temple Ladies White Shrine of Jerusalem of Wheeling. She was an active West Virginia University fan and along with her husband enjoyed traveling to WVU football games both home and away and to Nascar races for over 40 years in their motor home together and with family and friends and to several motor home rallies. They were members of the Family Motor Coach Association.

Survivors include her husband of 54 years, Ralph G. Haymond of Fairmont; three sons: Ralph G. “Jerry” Haymond II and his wife Kathy; Randall C. “Randy” Haymond and his significant other Kathy Hall; and Ronald B. “Ronnie” Haymond all of Fairmont; sister Ruth Ellen Smith and her husband Gene of Alexandria, Va.; four grandchildren: Jennifer, Matthew, Beth Ann Haymond and Nicole Haymond Puccio and her husband Larry all of Fairmont; and several nieces and nephews.

Friends and family were received at the Ford Funeral Home, Ford Chapel, 201 Columbia Street, Fairmont on Thursday, April 2, 2009. The funeral service will be held 1 p.m. today, April 3, 2009 with the Rev. Jim Zinn officiating.

The burial will follow at the Mt. Zion Cemetery and Mausoleum. Order of the Eastern Star, Chapter 34 of Fairmont conducted ritualistic services on Thursday evening at the funeral home. The family requests that memorials be made to Hospice Care, 1406 Country Club Rd., Fairmont, WV 26554 or to the American Cancer Society, P.O. Box 2222, Fairmont, WV 26555-2222. Online condolences may be expressed to the family at www.fordfuneralhome.com. The Ford Funeral Home of Fairmont is in charge of the arrangements

CO Tow Truck Drivers Honor Fallen Friend

Here's a CBS4 story on a tribute to Bob Swaney who passed away recently:

LOVELAND, Colo. (CBS4) ― About 70 tow trucks took part in a procession from Broomfield to Loveland Saturday afternoon to honor a long-time tow truck owner.

Bob Swaney, known by the nickname "Cozy Bob," died last week from COPD, a lung disorder.

Friends and fellow tow truck drivers say he was loved by all.

"Bob was an incredible guy, a great tower, a good friend to all of us, he did many great things in the community and we all came out to pay our respects," tow truck driver Jim Scofield said.

The procession stretched for six miles, ending with Swaney's funeral at Centaurus High School.

Swaney owned Cozy Corner towing and Ken's Wrecker Service and was a member of the International Towing Hall of Fame.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Everyday Tow Hero In AZ

Kudos to Jimmy Farley of Coco's Towing and his family for their donation! Here's the story from the Arizona Republic:

The owner of an El Mirage towing company donated $1,000 last week to Dreamcatcher Park, a Surprise recreation facility that serves developmentally disabled children."The folks at Coco's Towing are committed to the city, and we appreciate their generosity."

Two weeks ago, Farley and his wife were watching a show on Surprise Channel 11 that featured children playing at the park.

"I started crying," Farley said.

The couple went to the park on Tuesday for the first time, just to see its activities.

Farley, who has owned Coco's Towing for eight years, said he will continue to contribute to Dreamcatcher Park every year.

Coco's Towing also sponsors the Surprise Police Department's Teen Academy and donates junk cars to the Fire Department for practice drills.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Owner Of CA's RTS Towing To Stand Trial

From the Merced Sun-Star:

Ample evidence exists to try Randal Loy Wright, a Merced tow company owner, on a charge of making a false stolen car report, a judge decided Thursday in Merced County Superior Court.

Meanwhile, prosecutors also filed a separate charge against Wright -- accusations that he stole a car from a Fresno dealership.

The 58-year-old owner of RTS Towing was arrested March 18 for allegedly contacting the California Highway Patrol in February and falsely reporting his 2001 Ford Explorer Sport Trac stolen. The vehicle was later found in Oroville, but investigators claim Wright already knew its whereabouts.

Dressed in an orange jailhouse jumpsuit, Wright appeared in court for a preliminary hearing Thursday. During a preliminary hearing, a judge typically determines whether there's enough evidence to try a defendant.

Prosecutors called CHP officer Phillip Riggins to testify during Thursday's proceedings. Riggins testified that Wright had made a stolen vehicle report to the CHP on Feb. 23. Wright wrote on a CHP form that he'd last seen the Ford Explorer in the driveway of his home at 2012 Yosemite Park Way on Feb. 13.

Chuck Hale, a detective with the Merced County Sheriff's Department, testified that Wright's wife, Karen Rene Wright, in late December had asked her sister, Kim Stewart, to drop off the Ford Explorer at a self-storage unit in Oroville. Hale said the Ford is still at the Oroville storage facility in a unit under Karen Wright's name.

An odd twist to the story, however, is that Karen Wright disappeared after making a trip to San Felipe, Mexico, on Feb. 9, according to her family members. She remains missing, and Merced County sheriff's deputies are investigating her disappearance.

Sheriff's investigators said they learned of the false auto theft report while looking into the missing persons report involving Karen Wright. The couple had two vacation homes in San Felipe, where she disappeared.

Prosecutor Steven Slocum argued that Randal Wright's claim that his car went missing Feb. 13 couldn't have been true because the vehicle has been in Oroville since December. Tom Pfeiff, Wright's attorney, disagreed, saying the form his client signed was loaded with contradictions and was vague.

Pfeiff said there's no evidence that his client knew he was signing the CHP stolen car report under penalty of perjury. Despite the information on the CHP stolen car report, Pfeiff said Randal Wright wasn't exactly sure about when the Ford Explorer was stolen. "He just knew it was gone and reported it," Pfeiff said.

Judge Frank Dougherty ruled on the side of prosecutors, saying the evidence was sufficient in the case. Dougherty also kept Randal Wright's bail on the false report charge at $350,000, citing concerns by prosecutors that he's a flight risk.

Still, the perjury charge isn't the only accusation that Randal Wright is facing. He pleaded not guilty on a separate auto theft charge, after Thursday's preliminary hearing.

Merced County sheriff's investigators believe Randal Wright unlawfully took a Mercedes Benz G55 from Mercedes Benz of Fresno sometime between Dec. 9 and Dec. 18. Sheriff's spokesman Tom MacKenzie said Wright had taken the car to the dealership for repairs -- but had stopped making payments on the car.

Even though it's unknown whether Wright drove the car away from the dealership himself, MacKenzie said investigators believe he's responsible for the missing car. MacKenzie declined to provide more details, citing the integrity of the investigation.

MacKenzie said sheriff's investigators are still looking into both the disappearance of Karen Wright and RTS tow truck drivers Steven Lincoln Lombard, 33, and Paul Armstrong, 28. Lombard and Armstrong vanished on Dec. 17, 1993.

Randal Wright hasn't been named as a suspect in the disappearance of his wife or the RTS tow truck drivers. MacKenzie said there are no new details in either case.

Randal Wright remains at the Merced County Jail in lieu of $390,000 bail.

Reporter Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or vpatton@mercedsun-star.com.

TN's Harper's Wrecker Claims National Honor

Nice story in the Weakley County Press:

Harper's Wrecker claims national honor Sabrina Bates, Chief Staff Writer

For his company’s dedication to public service, a family man who followed in his father’s footsteps has received a prestigious honor among those in the towing trade.

Lynn Harper was recognized in November for his community service and dedication in the field of helping others.

While Harper is not a public servant in the way a police officer or firefighter would be deemed, the son of the late Jerry Harper and owner of Harper’s Wrecker Service has the distinction of helping others during their most desperate situations.

Lynn Harper followed in his father’s footsteps in the towing business right after he graduated high school in 1986.

Since then, Harper’s Wrecker Service has built a one-of-a-kind reputation not only throughout the community it serves, but also to the organizations who enlist the Harpers’ help.

Every year American Towman magazine honors members of the towing industry with a distinguished Order of Towman award. The award is a Maltese Cross with a towing icon sculpted inside.

A press release issued by American Towing magazine earlier this month states, “Those professionals who receive the Cross of the Order enter into an elite organization of towing professionals nationwide, the Towman Order, who take an oath to continue their unparalleled dedication to their towns. Much of the work these towmen perform are accident-related tows dispatched by the town police department.”

Last June Martin Police Chief David Moore offered a nomination to American Towman magazine in support of Harper’s Wrecker Service.

In a letter submitted to the Order of Towman selection committee, Moore said Lynn, along with his mother, has carried a tradition left behind by his late father Jerry, of never hesitating to answer the call when the department has been in need.

“Examples of this are giving priority to police vehicles that need towed which is always an situation for us. Many times this has been done at cost for the service due to the Harper family’s strong belief in community service and their dedication to partnerships with local first responders,” Moore wrote.

The police chief went on to describe how Lynn has provided the department with junk cars on the firing range for ballistics exercises as well as providing cars for a mock DUI crash scene near Westview High School prior to graduation.

Moore emphasized the family business is truly the epitome of community partners in Martin, Weakley County, Tennessee.

Lynn said the experience and the kind words have been surreal.

“I don’t guess it’s hit me yet. It’s like being considered the best of the best, but I don’t consider it that way,” Lynn commented.

The event, which was held at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore, Md., included a ceremony, reception and exhibit of more than 200 wreckers and trucks inside the Center. Iral “Peanut” Loar, a long-time family friend and business partner made the trip to Baltimore, Md. with him.

Lynn was the only towman from Tennessee that was sworn into the Order of the Towman that day.

He has officially gone from business owner to community leader to a Captain of the towing industry. Lynn joined 89 towing professionals from across the nation to hold the honor of Order of the Towman for this year.

Lynn will now travel to the next American Towman ceremony to help induct the newest members into the fraternal Order of Towman.

While the national honor is deemed one of the highest achievements a towing professional can garner, Lynn is humbled by the experience and was pleased to be home doing what he enjoys doing.

Some weeks, the business will make 36 hauls, which Lynn considers a “slow” week. Other times, it may be difficult for Lynn and his crew to catch a few hours of sleep in one night.

Lynn said, “That’s o.k. with me, I like a challenge.”

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

CTTA Announces Officers

The California Tow Truck Association is pleased to announce the following individuals were elected to serve as Officers of the Association during the CTTA Board of Directors meeting held in Sacramento, CA in February 2009.

Elected to serve as the Association President James Kruger, Expertow, Inc., Long Beach, CA, will serve a two-year term starting in 2009. Mr. Kruger has been actively involved within the CTTA organization since 2003 serving both his local chapter and the State Board of Directors. Graduating in 1981 from the University of Southern California with a degree in Business Administration, he enjoyed a successful career in the construction industry serving as Chief Financial Officer before returning to the family emergency road service and towing business. Mr. Kruger is a recognized leader in the public school volunteer arena and is a founding Director of Newcomb Academy Foundation, Inc. In 2007, Mr. Kruger was selected to join Leadership Long Beach as a member of the Class of 2008. Upon graduation, he was asked to join the Board of Directors and currently serves the organization in that capacity.

In addition to Mr. Kruger, the following CTTA members were elected to serve as Officers of the Association for a one-year term in 2009.

· 1st Vice President - Perry Shusta, Arrowhead Towing, Antioch, CA.
· 2nd Vice President - Sherry White, Mission Pass Towing, Fremont, CA.
· 3rd Vice President Sam Johnson, B & J Towing, Rancho Cordova, CA.
· 4th Vice President – Martin Bright, D & S Auto Repair & Towing, Beaumont, CA.
· Secretary - Lisa Isenhower, Bill’s Towing & Recovery, Mountain View, CA.
· Treasurer – Casey Horvath, Hamner Towing, Corona, CA.

“I am honored to have been elected to serve as President of the largest towing association in the nation. I look forward to working with my fellow colleagues and Board of Directors over the next two years continuing the commitment of the Association to provide information, education, communication, and advocacy while promoting professionalism and cooperation within the towing industry,” states James Kruger, CTTA President.

“I am thrilled to welcome Mr. Kruger and his entire team as Officers for the Association. All of the candidates elected for this term, bring tremendous experience in all facets of the towing industry and will benefit CTTA as they move forward in all of their strategic efforts," states CTTA Immediate Past President, Glenn Neal.

About the California Tow Truck Association
"Founded in 1969, the CTTA was established to provide a means of united efforts in the solution of problems, and to administer such action as might be deemed necessary to benefit the towing industry, to communicate with government agencies on a state and local basis, and to provide a concerted effort toward giving the Towing Industry a better public image and the professional status it deserves."

Contact Information
California Tow Truck Association
Michele Godwin

New TRAA Training Product


The National Driver Certification Study Guide for tow drivers is now available in a power point presentation (DVD) format for $29.99. Purchase the software disc to train yourself or the entire workforce at your facility. Plus, you will get a printed NDCP study guide with your order. Training course presentation includes Customer Service, Safety, Appearance, Attitude, Truck, Equipment, and Traffic Incident Management. Also, enroll in TRAA’s National Driver Certification Program (NDCP). Information and an application can be downloaded from TRAA’s website www.towserver.net or email Natasha Patterson at natasha@towserver.net.

What Have YOU Been Offered For A Tow?

From the Tribune Democrat of Johnstown, PA:

Drugs for tow proposal a no go

The Tribune-Democrat
“We deal with strange people every day here,” the employee at Brat Towing & Recovery in the Hornerstown section of Johnstown said Thursday.

But the woman, who didn’t want her name to be used, dealt with someone stranger than most on Wednesday.

She got a call from a man who said he was on Ohio Street pushing his car toward Moxham after it had broken down. He wanted to barter drugs in exchange for a tow.

“He said I sounded like someone who liked coke, that he had a trunkful of cocaine,” the worker said. “I said no. He said, ‘Well, you must like weed.’ No. Then, he named a pill, I don’t remember which kind.”

After a third rejection, the caller said, “Then I don’t want to talk to you,” and hung up.

The Brat employee was amused.

While the part about the trunkful of drugs sounded too good to be true, the worker decided not to take a chance.

“If he’s that stupid, I’ll try to send the police there,” she said.

She called 911.

Officers checked area roads for someone pushing a car but came up empty, city police Capt. Andy Frear said.

“I wouldn’t doubt that it (drugs for towing) has happened before – not here,” the captain said.

The towing company worker took the day in stride.

“It would have been a lot better if they would have caught the guy,” she said.

Female Tow Truck Driver A Rare Breed

You go, girl!
Story from the Mississiauga News of Ontario, Canada:
By: Louie Rosella
March 27, 2009 10:56 AM - Caitlyn Norman is carrying a lot more than a beat-up car or mangled SUV when she's out on the road.
The scrappy, 21-year-old Mississauga woman is carrying the weight of every person in her life who told her she's crazy for wanting to become a tow truck driver.
But Norman said she uses the criticism as motivation to succeed when she takes to the road in her tow truck and prepares for battle with competitors at accident scenes.
"I've struggled and come across some rough times with other drivers, but I don't give in to them," she said. "A woman can do anything a man can. Tow truck drivers have bad reputations, but I got into this to try to educate people that not every tow truck driver is a bad person."
Norman is one of a handful of female tow truck drivers in the city. She has been with Lyons Auto Body, on and off, since she was 18.
"This person is an exceptionally hard-working young woman. When she is given a challenge or a responsibility, it gets done," said Lyons production manager Joe Couto. "She has the courage and determination to go up against some of the drivers out there."
Norman started working at Lyons as a co-op student through her school's auto body repairs department.
She fulfilled that responsibility until she developed Carpal tunnel syndrome in her wrists.
"We felt that she was too valuable to let go and she was then placed as an assistant parts-sorting person," said Couto.
But that didn't pay much and, struggling to make ends meet, Norman decided to waitress until a better opening came up at Lyons.
Last year, she worked as a truck driver for Lyons, travelling back and forth to Florida picking up trailers and motorcycles.
Norman admitted that when she approached Couto about a tow truck driving position last fall, "I had to convince him that I would be safe and be alright out there."
Still, Norman says she doesn't want to drive a tow truck for the rest of her life. She's taking college courses and hopes to get involved in sales or customer service.
Couto said she can work for Lyons as long as she likes.
"She is proof of the changing world of women who can do what it takes to earn an honest living and survive the economic times that the world is in today," he said. "Caitlyn is truly a survivor who has been knocked down many times and knows how to get back up even stronger."
Lyons also employs another female tow truck driver — Rebecca Smith, 35, of Mississauga, a mother of four.

Literally, Stuck In Traffic...

From WFAA-TV in Dallas, TX:

DALLAS — Here's a story that gives new meaning to the phrase "stuck in traffic."

News 8 viewer and freelance photographer Alison Bristol said she was passing a construction crew at the corner of Lemmon Avenue and Inwood Road Monday when she noticed a Mercedes sedan embedded in some freshly-poured concrete.

"Apparently, the driver didn't realize the construction crew just finished pouring cement on the road," Bristol said, adding that the car drove into a work area clearly marked by signs and cones.

The driver had to be helped out of the car because the vehicle was completely surrounded by wet pavement.

As for the Mercedes, a wrecker was called to extract it from the southbound lanes before it became stuck in traffic permanently.

MD Tower Dies When Wrecker Crashes On VA's Interstate 81

Our condolences to the family and acquaintances of 63-year old Richard Anthony Woodward of Rosedale, MD. He died on Monday, Mar. 30.

Here's the Roanoke Times story:

Montgomery County -- A Maryland man was killed Monday afternoon when the truck he was driving crashed on Interstate 81 in Montgomery County, police said.

The crash happened just after 1 p.m. on northbound I-81 near mile marker 122, Virginia State Police Sgt. Rob Carpentieri said.

Richard Anthony Woodward, 63, of Rosedale, Md., apparently lost control of the 2001 Sterling rollback wrecker he was driving, Carpentieri said.

The truck went off the road into the median, and Woodward overcorrected and went off the right side of the road, where the truck struck the guardrail and overturned, Carpentieri said. Woodward was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected, Carpentieri said. He died at the scene.

Woodward was hauling a Mitsubishi sport utility vehicle on the rollback when he crashed, Carpentieri said. When the truck crashed, the SUV dangled over the guardrail, he said.

State police shut down the northbound lanes while they investigated the crash and removed the vehicles. Traffic backed up past Exit 114 into Christiansburg and was diverted off Exit 118 onto U.S. 460 north.

Both lanes had reopened by 4:30 p.m.

Farewell, Friends

Our condolences to the family and acquaintances of these towers.

Jerry Mattivi, 72, of Oklahoma City and Overland Park , KS , passed away March 18, 2009. He was a veteran of more than 40 years as a small-business owner in the Kansas City area and was in the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame’s Class of 1987. Jerry had been a Holmes rep and worked for Chevron before Miller bought that company. He was a Miller distributor in Kansas City and later in Oklahoma.

Bobbie “Cozy Bob” Swaney. The former president of the Towing & Recovery Professionals of Colorado passed away March 26. A tow truck procession was held to honor him.

George L. “Bud” Anderson. The owner of Golden State Wrecker and Equipment Sales died on March 13. He was a member of CTTA, the Hall of Fame class of 1991, and the co-founder and first president of the Towing Equipment Distributors Association.

RI Launches Public Awareness Campaign On "Move Over" Law

From WPRI.com:

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) - Officials say many Rhode Islanders still don't know you're supposed to move over and change lanes or slow down when passing emergency or road crews, police or tow truck drivers.

Representatives from the Rhode Island State Police , RIDOT and AAA Southern New England held a news conference Tuesday morning to launch a public awareness campaign of the "move over" law. The DOT's highway message boards and 1630 AM highway advisory radio station are now transmitting the SLOW DOWN, MOVE OVER message and information about the new law. Radio commercials about the new law are also airing statewide.

AAA says dozens of police officers, firefighters, tow truck drivers and construction workers are hurt every year when they are hit by passing motorists.

"It is remarkable to me," said Providence Police Chief Dean Esserman, "that when we count our honor roll every year across the country of officers we have lost, more officers are lost from traffic accidents every year than the violence of a gun."

The "move over" law took effect in the Ocean State August 1, 2008, but many motorists still aren't familiar with it, according to a news release.

More Info On TX Tower's Suspected Murderer

From MySanAntonio.com:

A University of Texas at San Antonio graduate student borrowed the name of a movie villain when he threatened to kill a witness to the slaying of a tow truck driver outside a student-housing complex last week, police said.

The student, Jason Christopher Miears, has been charged with murder in the March 24 shooting death of tow truck driver Jose Fernandez outside Miears' apartment building in the 6800 block of UTSA Boulevard.

According to an arrest affidavit, a man claiming to be “Ben Wade” called 911 after the 2:30 a.m. shooting.

“The caller said that if the handling detective did not call him back in five minutes, he would kill a witness to the murder,” the warrant states.

A detective called back and left messages but could not reach Miears. After obtaining call records, police determined the phone had recently been purchased at a Target in the 12600 block of Interstate 10 West. Video surveillance of the date of purchase showed Miears buying the phone along with a copy of “310 to Yuma,” a Western film starring Christian Bale and Russell Crowe.

Crowe plays the movie's villain, Ben Wade. Police found a copy of the film while searching Miears' apartment.

The recent court document has shed more light on a bizarre string of crimes that police say Miears has been linked to over a week's time. He remains jailed with combined bond set at $2 million.

The Dallas-area native, whose parents both are lawyers, was arrested Thursday on suspicion of robbing an IBC Bank of $4,000 in the 16300 block of Huebner Road.

Miears also is accused of shooting at a resident of his apartment complex, The Outpost, on March 20, according to the court document.

Request Pertaining To TX Tower Who Was Killed Mar. 24

Forwarded from Southwest Tow Operators:

From Liz Johnson of Alamo City Recovery:

As many of you have heard, one of our drivers, Jose Fernandez, was shot and killed early Tuesday morning while walking in an apartment community looking for a parking violator.

Jose has been a part of the Alamo City Recovery family since September of 2007. He was an amazing employee, an impressive wrecker driver, a phenomenal man, and a loving team member.
He will be greatly missed.

Rosary and Mass for Jose was held Friday, March 27, 2009 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 2114 W. Houston, San Antonio, TX 78207.

Burial Mass was on Monday March 30, 2009 at 10:00am with burial service immediately following.

A Memorial Fund has been set up for his family.

Contributions can be made to:

Jose A. Fernandez Memorial Fund
First National Bank

Liz & Scot Johnson
Alamo City Recovery

Tow Truck Crashes Into IL Tavern

From the Riverside Brookfield Landmark:

Three bar patrons in Brookfield escaped with only minor injuries last week after a flat-bed tow truck slammed into Slager's, 9308 47th St., demolished part of the front wall and sent building debris and vehicle parts flying into the tavern. The driver of the tow truck and another motorist were also only slightly injured, according to police.

"One of the paramedics told me to buy a lottery ticket," said a 62-year-old Lyons man who was sitting at a table next to the front window of the bar when the truck hit. "I didn't see it coming," said the man, who didn't wish to be identified. "I sort of heard a swishing sound and thought, 'What is that?' Then I went flying and landed on the floor sitting up. I didn't know if a bomb went off or it was a gas explosion."

According to police, it was 35-year-old Jeffrey J. Henzler, who was at the wheel of a 2007 Ford F550 tow truck on March 23 at 7:44 p.m. He collided with another vehicle and lost control of the truck. Henzler was westbound on 47th Street when he allegedly sideswiped a 1995 Buick Park Avenue driven by a 44-year-old Brookfield woman. The Buick careened into a Chevy van parked in front of 9300 47th St. The van was pushed into a Mercury Sable parked next to it. The driver of the Buick was reportedly treated for injuries at Loyola University Medical Center. The tow truck hit a bank of windows along the fa├žade of Slager's. When emergency crews arrived, they saw the truck's front end inside the small tavern. The impact sent bricks, car parts, window frames, tables, chairs and glass flying across the front of the bar. "I got there about a minute later and it looked like a bomb blew up," said bar owner Jimmy Slager, who was on his way to work when the crash happened. It was so devastating. I'm still in shock."

Three patrons inside the bar suffered minor injuries. The man sitting at the table by the window was hit by flying glass and needed stitches in his neck and arm. A 64-year-old woman sitting with him at the table was also thrown from her chair and treated for minor injuries. A 31-year-old Brookfield man sitting at the bar was sitting with his back to the window when the truck smashed into the business said he was hit in the back by a flying brick. The long, heavy wooden bar itself was moved about 4 inches north by the impact of objects hitting it. Incredibly, said Slager, no bottles or glasses along the north wall of the bar - which is only about 12 or 15 feet from the windows - were broken.

Henzler was apprehended at the scene by Brookfield police. He was employed by Kustom Automotive Recovery, 9100 Plainfield Road, Brookfield. Bill Taylor, the owner of Kustom, said that Henzler had been working for him about seven to eight weeks. Henzler has since been fired, Taylor said. "He was not even supposed to be in the truck. He was on call, and we had no tows all day or night," Taylor said referring to March 23. "It was so dead I told him that he could either stay in the office or go home and wait for a call." According to Taylor, the tow truck was totaled in the accident. Slager's, however, reopened for business just 44 hours after the crash.

By the morning of March 24, the bar had been cleaned up, Slager said. After shoring up the front wall and boarding up the opening, Slager was pouring drinks at 3:30 p.m. March 25. Pictures from the crash adorn the plywood south wall across from the bar and Slager said he still has the tow truck's grille, a fender and a tire as souvenirs. "So many people helped me clean up," Slager said. "It was spotless by the next morning."