Friday, June 19, 2009

Everyday Tow Hero In MN

Kudos to Cam Carlson of Auto Rescue in Little Canada, MN for his perserverance! Here's the Pioneer Press story:

It's amazing the amount of sympathy an urn of ashes can create.

After discovering the cremated remains of a 52-year-old St. Paul man in an impounded car two weeks ago, tow-shop owner Cam Carlson put out a public plea for anyone who might have known him.

The Little Canada towing service-turned-temporary caretaker was inundated with more than 100 calls over the weekend — and Monday, the business received the one it wanted. A thank-you, from a son of the deceased. The shop would need to hold onto the urn for just a few hours more.

Carlson found the urn while cleaning a car impounded during a mid-April traffic stop. No one had come to claim the 1999 Cadillac DeVille, and Carlson was preparing it to be sold. Stuffed in a corner of its trunk was the bronze urn, engraved with the name of the deceased, Leonois "Lee" Torrence.

Carlson tried to find the family and called the mortuary that conducted Torrence's cremation in 2007. But even that lead didn't pan out.

After a Saturday article in the Pioneer Press, the phone at Carlson's family-run business, Auto Rescue, started ringing off the hook.

"Holy buckets, I've had so many phone calls. They're still coming," shop manager Roy Carlson said Monday afternoon. "Everybody is giving suggestions — to check with the Minnesota Historical Society, with Veterans Affairs. Everywhere."

Police officers called after performing their own database searches on the Torrence family. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese

of St. Paul and Minneapolis called to say Torrence's ashes would be welcome at any of its cemeteries. The member of a church in Moose Lake, Minn., offered to take the urn if no one claimed it.

One family said they would be happy to put the urn in their own home, if worst came to worst.

"I was like, OK, whatever," Carlson said.

Finally, a man called, saying he had attended Torrence's funeral — and that one of his employees was Torrence's son. He would make sure the son called.

The son, Adam Torrence, 24, told Carlson his younger brother had been driving the Cadillac when it was stopped by police in April in North St. Paul and that he would come by Monday evening to pick it up. Adam Torrence told the Pioneer Press he was Lionois Torrence's son but did not comment further.

While he's happy he rescued the urn, Cam Carlson is even happier the ordeal is over.

"I'm happy Lee's going home. It's been a crazy few weeks,'' Carlson said. "It was a dead-end street everywhere I went. I was thinking he'd be a permanent fixture at the shop."

Tad Vezner can be reached at 651-228-5461.

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