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Friday, July 31, 2009

Tow Truck Drivers Now Covered Under OH 'Move Over' Law

Kudos to OH lawmakers! As of July 1, tow truck drivers are covered under the "Move Over" law! Here's a story from the Buckeye Lake Beacon:
MILLERSPORT - Tom Gary, owner of Millersport's Southwest Towing & Recovery, clearly remembers changing a stranded motorist's tire in heavy rain along I-670.

He was nearly finished when he heard squealing rubber and crunching metal. Gary looked over his shoulder to see a large Chevy Suburban SUV tumbling end over end straight toward him. Luckily for him and the stranded motorist, the Suburban came to rest a few yards shy of Gary's truck. He said the SUV driver served to miss hitting the tow truck in the rain, and flipped his vehicle. Miraculously, the SUV driver walked away from the wreckage and no one was severely injured.

Unfortunately, said Gary, others weren't so lucky. He said two Ohio tow truck operators were recently killed on the job - Matthew Schilling of Orient in May of this year and Seth Hicks of Circleville in August 2008. Gary said the Towing and Recovery Association of America estimates passing vehicles fatally strike 55 tow truck operators annually along American roadways. These incidents prompted the state to add tow truck drivers to its "Move Over, Slow Down" law, which was originally intended for police and medics. Gary is spreading the word. "A few inches is all it takes to kill us," he said.

According to the revised law, motorists on multilane highways must move at least one lane away from safety vehicles with flashing lights - the law now includes safety vehicles with flashing amber lights, such as tow trucks.

Lt. Tony Bradshaw, Ohio State Highway Patrol spokesman, said tow trucks were just added to the law July 1, 2009. In all, the law now includes "emergency vehicles," defined as emergency vehicles of municipal, township, or county departments, or public utility corporations when identified as such as required by law, the director of public safety, or local authorities, and police commandeered vehicles.

The law also includes "road service vehicles," such as wreckers, utility repair vehicles, and state, county, and municipal service vehicles equipped with flashing, rotating, or oscillating lights.

Bradshaw said authorities realize traffic is too dense sometimes to move into an adjacent lane when approaching a service vehicle. "That's where the slow down part comes in," he said. In those situations drivers are required to reduce speed sig- nificantly when passing service vehicles. Bradshaw said individual courts set their own fines for violators. Citations are being written for violators.

It's important to note that same bill made other traffic law revision. Ohio law now requires all vehicles to display headlights whenever windshield wipers are operating because of precipitation of any kind. Warnings will be issued for windshield wiper violations through the end of this year. Officers may issue citations for headlight violations beginning January 1, 2010.

A Chance To Help A Towing Entrepreneur

Some of you may have heard of a KIVA loan. Basically, it's person-to-person microlending, giving the working poor an alternative source of funding to start a business. Individuals lend as little as $25 to help someone. Read more about it at www.kiva.org.

I saw this today about a man named Michael who is need of a $3,000 loan for advertising his fledgling towing business in Atlanta, GA. Read more here.

Michael worked in the towing industry for three years before making the leap to entrepreneurship. As a young man, his ambitions began by leasing two tow trucks and creating contracts with car auction businesses.

Michael is requesting a loan to do more advertising. In the past he was successful at advertising his services to create contracts with car auction companies. His loan of $3,000 will help him create advertising to increase his sales.

He has plans to continue growing the business, to add staff, and develop long-term contracts with insurance agencies and local government bodies for towing services. He enjoys the freedom of owning his own business and strives every day to nurture its growth.

Important Information About This Loan
Kiva realizes that access to credit is a challenge for entrepreneurs everywhere. Kiva started out as a website focused on developing-world entrepreneurs. In June 2009, Kiva began experimenting with allowing entrepreneurs in the United States to raise money on its website. If this is something you support, please feel free to fund this loan. If you have questions, including how an entrepreneur in your neighborhood might get a loan, please visit our Help Center and click on "Loans in the United States."

NY Tow Truck Driver Was Texting, Talking Before Crash

Sure, we're all busy, but texting on one phone while talking on another phone while driving is just an accident begging to happen. Here's another story on the Wednesday accident in NY from the Niagara Gazette:
A woman and child were taken to Buffalo-area hospitals wtih serious injuries Wednesday morning after a flatbed tow truck crashed into their car and careened into an in-ground pool on Tonawanda Creek Road.

Rapids Fire Chief Barry Kobrin said a man identified as Nicholas Sparks, driving a tow truck for Adams Towing, was traveling east on Tonawanda Creek Road about 8 a.m. and was apparently talking on his cell phone and possibly sending a text message on another phone as he approached the intersection with Willow Wood Drive. A car was stopped there and waiting to turn left.

The tow truck driver reportedly struck the back of the car, causing it to spin around and land in a ditch. The tow truck continued on, swerving off to the north side of the road and crashing through a backyard fence.

One of the cars it was towing flew off and struck the house at 6369 Tonawanda Creek Road, crushing the air conditioner and gas main, Kobrin said.

“It took out three or four sections of fence, and there’s some structural damage to the house,” Kobrin said.

One of the motorcycles being towed flew off the truck as well, landing underneath the car on the lawn. The tow truck ended up with its front end in the home’s in-ground pool.

Inside the house, the homeowner, who asked not to be named, said it sounded “like a bomb went off.”

He said he was upstairs with his two 5-year-old daughters at the time of the crash. When he looked outside and saw the devastation, he said one thought went through his mind: “I was thankful (the girls) weren’t swimming.”

Sheriff’s Capt. Bruce Elliot said the tow truck driver was talking on the phone when the accident occurred, and he may have been sending text messages on a separate phone.

“There’s some indication that he might have been texting on a second phone, a personal phone, and taking a business call on a business phone,” Elliot said. “Right now we took possession of the phones, and we’re going to do a search warrant and download records from both phones.”

The driver “didn’t even apply the brakes” before striking the car at the intersection, he said.

That car sustained extensive damage. The woman who was driving was transported to Erie County Medical Center by Mercy Flight for treatment of serious injuries, Kobrin said.

An 8-year-old girl in the back seat, identified as the driver’s great-niece, was transported to Women and Children’s Hospital for treatment of her injuries, including whiplash.

The owner of the home said he ran to the car after the accident and tried to help the woman and the child out of the car.

“I tried to get down there, and we were trying to get them out of the car,” he said. “The lady was holding her head.”

Kobrin said the child was especially lucky to escape without serious injury.

“Somebody was watching over her,” he said, pointing to the car, which was crushed almost beyond recognition in the back end. “Look at that car.”

Elliot said for now the tow truck driver will be charged with reckless endangerment, reckless driving, following too closely and use of a cell phone while driving.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Jerr-Dan Receives Order From Vietnam

Here's the release:

Jerr-Dan Corporation, an Oshkosh Corporation [NYSE: OSK] company, announced that it has received an order for 14 vehicles –12 Jerr-Dan HPL-3560 standard-duty wreckers and two Jerr-Dan MDL 320 medium-duty wreckers—from the Vietnam Ministry of Public Security, Police Department ordered the trucks.

The vehicles will be delivered and placed into service in Hanoi this fall.

The HPL-3560 steel wrecker bodies will be mounted on Ford F-550 chassis. The wreckers feature a self-contained recovery boom with capacities from 4 to 12 tons, and an extended underlift with 3,500 lbs of capacity. The units also offer dual manual wheel lift controls and a six-function hydraulic wheel lift system for easier vehicle loading.

The MDL 320 medium-duty wrecker bodies will be mounted on Hino chassis. The lightweight, composite body resists stress cracks and never rusts. With its long underlift and negative tilt crossbar, the MDL 320 allows for easier reach, especially when making downhill recoveries. The underreach and boom are mounted to the chassis subframe to transfer forces away from the body, reducing wear.

“This order from the Vietnam Ministry of Public Security is testament to the strength of our products,” said Wilson Jones, Oshkosh Corporation executive vice president, Fire & Emergency and interim president of Jerr-Dan Corporation. “We continue to make inroads throughout Southeast Asia with sales such as these.”

ID Man Pinned Between Two Vehicles Nearly Bleeds To Death

Not sure if this unnamed injured man is a tow truck driver or not. Either way, we hope he's on his way to a full recovery. Here's the story from KTVB.com:

GARDEN CITY -- This is one time when failing to wait for medical help to arrive may have actually saved a man's life.

Garden City Police tell us a man suffered life-threatening injuries to his leg late Sunday when he was pinned between two vehicles.

Around 11:34 p.m., officers were dispatched to the area of Veterans Memorial Parkway and Adam Street for a traffic accident. They learned a man was injured while attempting to tow a disabled vehicle. The man became pinned between the hitch and bumper when the towing vehicle was backing up to hook on.

The victim's main artery was injured, which led to massive bleeding. He was take by private vehicle to the emergency room at St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center.

Police say had the driver waited for an ambulance, the man likely would have bled to death before help could arrive.

At last word the man was undergoing surgery. His name and condition have not been released.

Police are continuing to investigate this incident.

Everyday Tow Heroes In IA

Here's the info in a TRAA release:

Washington, DC, July 28, 2009 -- The Towing and Recovery Association of America, in conjunction with its ongoing effort to improve the image of towers and the towing industry to the general public, would like to acknowledge the recent efforts of a towing company in Des Moines

, Iowa.

On June 30, 2009, a boat carried a couple over a dam in Des Moines, leading to a dramatic rescue of the woman and the drowning of her husband. The boat was severely damaged and needed to be recovered from the Des Moines River. On July 3, 2009, G & S Service from Des Moines performed the work for no charge to provide some help after the tragedy.

“We’re doing this pro bono to help the lady out � she’s had enough loss said Glen Mikel, owner of G & S Service, a towing company in Des Moines.

The boat remained lodged under the dam for two days, but by the time of the recovery it had moved several feet downstream. Employees of G & S Service were able to hook a cable from a boom on its wrecker to the boat.

They towed it downstream and lifted it to a bridge as several dozen people watched the two-hour process.

“I’m glad this company donated their time and effort to do this for the family said Betty Lou Smith of Des Moines, one of the onlookers. “They’ve been through so much. It’s a neat thing that this community has come together to do this — first the rescue, now pulling the boat out

The full story can be found at www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20090703/NEWS/90703008/1001/NE ..

Grand Prize Hino Truck To Be Raffled At 2010 Florida Tow Show

Here's the news release:
NOVI, Mich., July 28 /PRNewswire/ -- Hino Trucks has teamed up with Miller Industries to provide one lucky tow operator a chance to win a fully loaded 2010 Hino model 258ALP with a Century 12 Series LCG Carrier. The truck will be a part of a giveaway that benefits The Professional Wreckers of Florida (PWOF) Education and Legislation Programs and will be raffled during next year's Florida Tow Show in Orlando.

This is the second year Hino Trucks has provided a vehicle for the Tow Show's giveaway. "This is a way for us to give something back to the independent wrecker operators and to help with the success of promoting education and safety," explained Glenn Ellis, Vice President of Marketing for Hino Trucks. "The PWOF are constantly looking for new ways to advance the towing industry and Hino Trucks is proud to partner with Miller Industries to support this event and their organization."

The Hino 258ALP roll back has a unique design and leads the industry by providing a total package of driver comfort and flexibility, superior performance, low-cost-per-mile operation, and outstanding serviceability and reliability. The Century 12 Series LCG Carrier is a revolutionary design that allows the carrier deck to be mounted 5 - 6 inches lower then comparable units providing a lower load angle, better stability, increased safety with the operator being able to secure the load from the ground and the ability to transport taller loads.

Mike Seamon, Executive Director of PWOF added, "The Professional Wrecker Operators of Florida is pleased to once again travel to Tow Shows across the country to allow attendees to test drive the new Hino with a brand new design LCG Miller Industries carrier. The air ride on the Hino and the new low center of gravity mounted flatbed makes for a very low angle for specialty vehicles and is a perfect fit for our industry."

TX Man Crushed While Working On Wrecker

Here's the KHOU.com story:

HOUSTON—A man died Tuesday after police say he was run over by his own truck.

The man was found under the wheels of his flatbed wrecker at Fulton and Tidwell around 8 p.m.

Police said the man was apparently working on the truck at Gress Tire Shop at the time.

Investigators believe he fell asleep under the vehicle and it somehow rolled on top of him.

Police said they’re inspecting the truck to make sure it’s up to code.

Morning Accident In NY Leaves Tow Truck In Pool

Here's the story from WGRZ.com:

The Niagara County Sheriff's Department is investigating a morning accident that left a tow truck in a pool.

According to the Sheriff's Department, the tow truck rear ended a car that was turning left off of Tonawanda Creek Road onto Littlewood Road. Investigators say the tow truck was driving at a high speed, and did not attempt to stop.

When it hit the car, a few of the cars attached to the tow truck released and were sent into a nearby house. The tow truck finally stopped in an inground pool.

According to the Niagara County Sheriff's department, the woman driving the car and the tow truck were taken to ECMC. A child in the car was taken to Women and Children's Hospital.

The Sheriff's department has no word on the extent of the injuries.

Here's another story on this incident from WKBW.com:

Sources on the scene tell Eyewitness News that an accident involving a tow-truck and a passenger vehicle on Tonawanda Creek Road North in the town of Rapids, may have been caused by texting.

Police and witnesses say they believe the driver of the tow-truck may have been texting while driving when he slammed into a car occupied by a woman and her 8-year old son. The impact dislodged a car on the tow-truck bed, sending it into a neighboring house, while the tow-truck landed partially in a back-yard pool.

The driver of the tow-truck was taken by ambulance to ECMC with back injuries. The female driver was taken by Mercy Flight to ECMC and is in serious condition with a head injury. The 8-year old child suffered whiplash, but is otherwise in good condition.

Monday, July 27, 2009

IL Towing Co. Accused Of Posing Health Threat

Here's the WREX-TV news story:

ROCKFORD (WREX) - There's a call for action against a towing company accused of dumping materials that contained disease carrying mosquito larvae in a residential area.

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Director Doug Scott has asked the Illinois Attorney General's office to pursue action against Northern Illinois Towing for open dumping and illegal management of waste tires which contained the mosquito larvae.

Northern Illinois Towing is located at 2501 Kishwaukee Street in Rockford, in an area where there are many homes.

During an EPA inspection, approximately 1,000 waste tires were found, some containing stagnant water that can serve as a breeding ground for disease-carrying mosquitoes.

The inspection also turned up evidence of open dumping of items like: empty gas containers, used batteries, drums containing unknown materials, evidence of burnt debris, landscape waste and various types of general waste and debris.

The city of Rockford has already condemned all of the buildings at the site, but the Illinois EPA is asking the towing company's owner to make sure all of the materials are properly disposed of before the buildings are torn down.

Everyday Tow Hero in CO

Three cheers for Mark Drummond of Mat Dog Towing & Recovery! Here's the story from the Glenwood Spring Post Independent:

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado — Aaron Heideman's cross country trip came to an abrupt halt on July 19, when the van he was traveling in broke down in the Glenwood Canyon.

“I was on my way to Denver and broke down and got stuck in this beautiful town and have been here for a couple of days now,” Heideman said.

But the help of a local tow truck operator helped him get back up and running.

Wednesday afternoon, Heideman, 29, rummaged through his orange and black van, which looked like it was packed for moving. He's not, really.

He dug through its contents and pulled out a large white scroll of some kind of weather-resistant material.

The van was marked with scribblings in several spots on its exterior. A large rack upon it's top posed a very serious question, “How has the recession affected you?”

“What's with the van?” a young man asked as he approached Heideman.

Heideman took the bait.

“I'm traveling around the country collecting people's stories of how they've been affected by the recession,” Heideman said.

The young man stood there for a brief moment, reading one of the blocks of scribble on the side of the van.

“I've got a story for you,” the young man said, but I've got to catch a bus.

“If you tell me your story, I'll take you wherever you need to go,” Heideman responded.

The guy told his story, and Heideman listened.

Heideman has traveled from Oregon, through California, Nevada, Utah and into Colorado since July 1, doing just that — Listening to people talk about how they've been affected by the recession. He's collecting the stories on the van's exterior and on a 50-yard scroll.

“I've got about 30-yards of stories already,” he said.

“I'm finding that everyone I talk to seems to have a really unique story,” he said. “I'm also finding that a lot of people have stories dealing with anguish and heaviness.”

The project is actually a traveling social art project called “The Man in a Van Project,” which Heideman is going to enter into the Artprize art contest in September, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He said that he started the project as something cool to do, but it's turned into so much more than he ever imagined.

“There is something about this project that is very emotionally real that I was not expecting,” he said.

After losing his job at a paint store in southern Oregon about six months ago, Heideman became a victim of the recession himself and decided to do something very different than just look for another job.

“I had such a perfect set up,” he said. “But I had to get out of the rut with the recession, and losing my job, and I decided to let go of everything.”

So he sold all of his stuff, including his pick-up truck, he said, and decided to live out of a van and travel around the country, documenting people's stories.

However, his trip almost ended when his van's water pump broke, stopping him in his tracks near the Bair Ranch Rest Area in the Glenwood Canyon on July 19.

“Part of the premise for what I'm doing is that I'm traveling the country with no money,” he said.

That made fixing his van a real problem. Without money, he had no way of paying the $400 amount he was told by several area auto repair shops that it would cost to replace it.

“It was kind of discouraging,” he said.

He thought that his whole trip may come to an unexpected halt.

It took two days of scouring Glenwood Springs to find someone that could help him out. He received a list of tow truck operators from the Garfield County Sheriff's Office and he called the first one on the list. That's how he met Mark Drummond of Mat Dog Towing and Recovery.

“I don't know what I would have done if it wasn't for Mark's help,” Heideman said. “I guess I would still be stuck.”

Heideman managed to scrounge up enough to get a replacement water pump. However, he admits that he had no mechanical ingenuity to accomplish the task of repairing the dead vehicle.

But Drummond offered to help, free of charge.

“I told him what I was doing and that my water pump was broken and asked if he could help me,” Heideman said.

Drummond took Heideman to his van at the Bair Ranch Rest Area and spent about four hours replacing the cracked water pump.

“It was not an easy project on that van,” Drummond said.

But he fixed it anyway. He felt it was the right thing to do.

“He's got a legitimate project he's working on,” Drummond said. “He's not in the unemployment line. He's doing something that he believes in, that is in the interest of most people in this country.”

Drummond said that he didn't mind helping, he just believes, “what comes around goes around.”

“People should always help out their fellow person,” Drummond said. “You never now when it's going to be you.”

Drummond added a small square of scribble one of the van's windows as well.

“I just spoke with him yesterday,” Drummond said Friday. “He was just leaving Loveland, and on his way to Texas.”

It's stories like that which Heideman said has changed him throughout this project.

“It's changed me to be a much better problem solver,” he said. “At the same time, it's changing me and making me more empathetic. I started with the idea that it was a really cool concept and would be a cool adventure. But once I started hearing the stories from the people it hit me that it was a very important project. That people are putting a lot of confidence in trusting me with their stories.”

Heideman will continue traveling around the nation, thanks to Drummond's help. He will end up in Michigan on September 15, where he will live in his van for a two week period as part of the art show.

For more information on the project visit, www.themaninavanproject.com.

jgardner@postindependent.com

Friday, July 24, 2009

Everyday Tow Hero In IL

Here's the Southtown Star story about J.R. Bramlett of Airline Towing of Calument Park, IL. This exceptional tow boss was featured in Towing & Recovery Footnotes' April issue on page 20. Click here to read the story!

J.R. Bramlett couldn't help but notice the two giant oak trees that had fallen on top of the Catholic Charities garage across 159th Street from the Oak Forest Hospital.

So he called the Rev. Wayne Wurst and inquired.

Wurst told Bramlett, owner of Airline Towing in Calumet Park, that the trees were knocked over four months ago during a storm and that he didn't have the $5,000 that was quoted to remove the trees.

Bramlett drove one of his massive tow trucks last week to the site and removed both trees, cutting everything up into firewood.

"Let's just say that was my donation to the church," Bramlett said. "There are five priests living in that residence and one of the cars inside the garage was a 1962 Chevy that I offered to buy on the spot."

Jim Hook can be reached at jhook@southtownstar.com or (708) 633-5961.

TowBlog Turns Two!

Just realized that TowBlog passed its two-year mark last Friday, July 17th! Woot!

Trial Set For MI Deputy Who Pulled Gun On Tow Truck Driver

Here's the story from the Adrian Daily Telegram:
A Sept. 24 trial was set Wednesday for a former Lenawee County sheriff’s deputy accused of pulling a gun on a tow truck driver attempting to repossess a pickup at the deputy’s home.
Daniel Dalton Rudd, 34, waived arraignment in Lenawee County Circuit Court on felonious assault and firearms charges. He remains free on personal recognizance.

The veteran sheriff’s department sergeant was fired in April after an internal investigation of the Feb. 8 incident was completed. He was charged with four felony counts in June after an investigation by a Michigan State Police detective at the Jackson post. Detective Duane Hickock said the tow truck driver made a video recording when Rudd confronted him at his Tipton-area home while he was repossessing a pickup.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Everyday Tow Hero In FL

Kudos to this (once again) unnamed tow truck driver who pulled a man and his 11-year-old daughter out of a bus after this accident.
Here's the story from NBC6.net:

An elderly man has died after a violent collision between a police cruiser and an airport shuttle bus early this morning in Miami Beach.

The accident occurred just after 4 a.m. when the cruiser collided with a SuperShuttle bus at Abbott Ave. and 71st St.

The police officer driving the cruiser, from Sunny Isles, was hospitalized after the crash. He was transporting a prisoner, who wasn't hurt in the accident.

Another man and his 11-year-old daughter were pulled out of the SuperShuttle bus by a tow truck driver who was driving past the accident. According to witnesses the bus rolled over but ended up back on its wheels.

"I heard the screeching of the tires as the van rolled over and I ran outside," said Stephanie Quintanilla, who lives nearby where the accident occurred. "The guy from the tow truck pulled the little girl out through the window."

The little girl, Sophia Durian, said the tow truck driver saved them. "He helped us so much, he took everybody out of the car," she said. She and her father were on their way to the airport for a trip to Colombia.

The name of the victim was not released.

Bill Gratzianna aka "Mr. Tow"

Here's a story from the Franklin Park Herald-Journal about Gratzianna's hobby of restoring old tow trucks:

Some people restore homes or furniture or antiques or paintings. William "Bill" Gratzianna restores old tow trucks.

"Old" means at least 60 years ago, like the tan 1949 Nash he plans to take on next. Along with his now deceased father Jack, Gratzianna has restored a 1929 Chrysler and a 1929 Packard.

Gratzianna could rightfully be called Mr. Tow. He is president of O'Hare Towing Services, with locations in Northlake, Downers Grove, Lockport and Grundy (plus two repair shops).

His company is also the subject of a cable television series named "Wrecked: Life in the Crash Lane." It's a reality-based show where camera crews follow tow trucks on the job.

Though he has 125 people working for him, Gratzianna still goes out in a tow truck to do what the industry calls "recoveries," along with his German shepherd that rides in the back of his cab.

"I call her the vice president of security," Gratzianna said.

He has towed almost everything one can think of, including storm-tossed trees, airplanes, bulldozers, army tanks, armored cars, garbage trucks and helicopters. Once he towed circus wagons containing live animals belonging to Barnum & Bailey from Rosemont to the United Center in Chicago.

"Everything you see going down the Eisenhower (Interstate 290), sooner or later it will go on tow trucks," Gratzianna said.

He comes by his passion for restoring old tow trucks by his father, Jack, who started O'Hare Towing in 1963. On family vacations, whenever his father spotted an old gas station, he'd drive around to the back to see if there were any old vehicles.

"My mother used to go crazy," Gratzianna said. "She'd say, 'Jack, it's time to go.'"

His father also knew a man who traveled a lot between Wyoming and Arizona. He supplied the man with an instamatic camera and asked him to take a photo of whatever old vehicles he spotted.

"He used to buy ... old corvettes, old milk delivery trucks, this Arizona (tow) truck," Gratzianna said.

The challenges of vehicle restoration for Gratzianna are perhaps different than those of other people.

"We're mechanically inclined people," Gratzianna said. "We have our own body shop. Painting and welding stuff and fixing engines are what we do."

Wood, however, is not. In the 1929 Chrysler, the cab was built of wood with metal sheets tacked on it.

"Back in that time, they didn't have the ability to make metal posts like we do today," Gratzianna said. "We had to sub that job out."

Also, while the vehicles father and son restored are special to Gratzianna since his father passed away in 2000, Gratzianna recalls it was a bit different when he and his father were actually doing the work.

"My motivation was running the business," Gratzianna said. "He would take a bay out of the shop or take a mechanic from me to restore a (vintage tow) truck. I would say, 'Dad, I got a truck that needs to be fixed.'"

Still, Gratzianna aims to keep restoration a family affair, with his daughters and younger brother helping out on the Nash.

Another challenge is finding parts. There are clubs and after-market manufacturers who make parts for old Mustangs, Chevelles and Corvettes. Old tow trucks are another story.

"I had to buy six other Chryslers to get all the pieces to do that (1929 Chrysler) tow truck," Gratzianna said. "One I needed for a transmission and wheels. Others I needed for fenders."

There's also the matter of bringing the vehicle back to its authentic shape at the time of manufacture. Some restorers cut corners, making a vehicle easier to drive than when it was built. Not Gratzianna.

"I went out of my way to buy original tires," Gratzianna said. "They are terrible on the road, they're terribly expensive, they suck all the way around, but if you want original, you go with the ply tires."

The same with batteries, which in 1929 were covered with hot tar.

"The battery sucked," Gratzianna said. "You had to jump the thing all the time or park on a hill so you could push start it."

For his 1949 Nash, Gratzianna estimates it will take two years and at least $50,000 for the bulk of the restoration work, though truly, restoration is never done.

"That's the beauty of old anything," Gratzianna said. "You're always messing with them. Officially, they never have a completion date. Anyone who tells you that they do has run out of money."

Monday, July 20, 2009

Two St. Petersburg, FL Towing Companies In Fight Over Name

Here's the story from TampaBay.com:

ST. PETERSBURG

Two towing companies with very similar names are at war in St. Petersburg.

There's A-1 Recovery Inc., and then there's A-1 Recovery, a.k.a. Apex Towing and Recovery or Tokay Towing and Recovery Inc. Their names appear in tiny lettering at the end of 1 by 3 metal plates in parking lots across the city warning that "UNAUTHORIZED VEHICLES WILL BE TOWED."

In recent years, both companies have been in bitter lawsuits and counter lawsuits over who has the right to the "A-1" moniker. The suits are rife with accusations of unethical business practices, including scratching off or covering names on signs and using deceptive tactics to steal contracts.

In 2007, when the first suit was filed, a judge signed an injunction prohibiting one company from affiliating itself with the other. But the judge did not order either side to stop using the A-1 name.

While that case is pending, the animosity between the two companies has only served to generate confusion around town.

"I end up having to field all these calls to send people in the right direction all the time," said Phillip DeCelles, who owns A-1 Recovery and filed the 2007 lawsuit against his competitor. "It's irritating."

DeCelles says in court papers he bought the company from Jon De Inc. in July 2007. The firm, with offices at 2600 24th St. N, had been in business since 1999 and had 400 clients when DeCelles bought it. Today, it has 900 client agreements to tow vehicles away from private property, law enforcement and others. DeCelles, who worked in research and development for a medical company before he bought the business, declined to disclose his profits, but he said the business was lucrative.

The company he bought also had a former employee named Aaron Watkins.

In a court affidavit, Watkins says he started A-1 Recovery Inc. in 2006. He used the name because it was a fictitious name used by his former employer, who also used the name Tokay Towing.

"When I decided to go into business on my own, I selected the A-1 Recovery Inc. name because it was familiar and trusted," Watkins says in court papers.

Soon after he started the business, DeCelles claims in court papers, Watkins began approaching his customers to tell them that DeCelles was not authorized to tow cars with the A-1 name. DeCelles said Watkins has stolen dozens of contracts, and defaced or removed signs around town.

Watkins denies those claims in a countersuit, saying he never misled anyone, nor did he ever damage property. Watkins also charges that DeCelles' use of the A-1 name has damaged his own company's reputation.

Each also argues in court papers that the other did not properly register corporation names or licenses with the state. They are seeking unspecified damages.

DeCelles said he began to use the Apex name "to make it easier on the community." It now graces two of his three vehicles, though the A-1 Recovery name also appears on the trucks in smaller type. It is too problematic, though, to change the names on all of his contracts, DeCelles said.

Both owners agree that the towing business is a dirty one, even without the confusion caused by two companies sharing a name. It is a business that suffers from an eternal stigma, where most human interactions are unhappy ones. Lawsuits are common. So are screaming and crying people. Tow truck drivers, who work on commission, are regularly accused of being too quick to tow.

By state law, towing companies can charge no more than $100 plus mileage for towing your car. They can also charge a daily storage rate for keeping your vehicle. After about five weeks, they own your car.

In their defense, the two companies say they are providing a service that helps keep cities clean and orderly.

Neither Watkins nor DeCelles say they are ready to give up the fight to keep the A-1 name.

"We believe we are right," said Watkins.

"I enjoy this business way too much," said DeCelles.

Luis Perez can be reached at lperez@sptimes.com or (727) 892-2271.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Everyday Tow Heroes In UT

Kudos to these two unnamed tow truck drivers who helped police capture some robbers!
Here's the ABC4.com (Salt Lake City) news story:
Two alert tow truck drivers helped catch some early morning robbery
suspects. Police say four people walked into the Maverick near 1700 S.
Redwood Road just after 3 Thursday morning and walked out with a case of
beer. When the clerk tried to stop them, the suspects threatened to
attack. Police say two tow truck drivers filling up their gas tanks witnessed
the incident and followed the suspects with their lights on, until police could
arrive.

IN Tow Truck Driver, Passenger Killed

Our condolences to the family and acquaintances of 40-year old tow truck driver Tim Davis and his passenger, 41-year old Anna Smith, who died Wednesday when the tow truck was hit by a train.
Here's the FOX 28 newsstory:

Two people are dead after their tow truck was struck by an Amtrak train in Goshen.

The driver, Tim Davis, 40, passenger Anna Smith, 47, both of Goshen, died in the accident.

Police say a Amtrak train traveling southeast hit the truck after the driver drove around the working crossing gates.
About 250 passengers were on board the train. The engineer, Arthur Stier, 60, of Toledo, Ohio, was taken to the hospital complaining of pain to the back and trouble breathing because of the fuel. A passenger also complained of difficulty breathing.

Injured Canadian Tow Truck Driver In Stable Condition

Here's the story from The Guardian:
STRATFORD — One man is in stable condition at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital after suffering serious injuries when a tow-truck cable snapped and struck him in the face on Wednesday.
The man, a Shaw’s Towing Service truck operator suspected to be in his early 20s, was attempting to tow a Schurman Concrete truck from a construction site on the corner of Kinlock Road and Stratford Road in Stratford when the cable he was using snapped and struck him in the head.
The man was rushed to the Charlottetown hospital in a semi-conscious state shortly after noon where he was later said to be in stable condition.
RCMP, Stratford Fire Department and Island EMS responded to the incident along with Occupational Health and Safety, which is currently conducting an investigation into the accident.
“We’ll do an investigation into why it happened,” said George Stewart, director of Occupational Health and Safety with the Workers Compensation Board.
“Primarily we will focus on what happened and how we can implement measures to prevent it from happening again.”
Stewart said at this point in the investigation it is too early to say what caused the accident or if charges could potentially be laid, adding it will likely be a couple of weeks before the investigation is complete.
Nobody from Shaw’s Towing Service would comment on the accident.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

July Issue of Footnotes Now Online!

Read it today!

Tow Institute Now Automates Student Notifications


TowPartners has announced that its Tow Institute website at www.towinstitute.com has now been setup to automatically send updates to all potential students when classes are added to the roster. The system now allows individuals to register to receive these updates and then generates e-mail notifications to them about upcoming events in their region of the country. The student e-mails will be sent at the time of registration, time of class listing on the site and 21 days prior to each class to all registered interested parties in any geographic region of the country.

Monday, July 13, 2009

TRAA Needs Your Photos, Videos

In its ongoing effort to improve the image of towers and the towing industry, the Towing and Recovery Association of America (TRAA) has launched a campaign to collect still images and video footage that depict some of the challenges and unique day-to-day situations encountered by towing operators. TRAA is also accepting links to videos and images towing operators have hosted online with YouTube, Photobucket or other sources.These images and videos will be used to build an informational package that can be distributed to various sources to help provide positive information about the towing industry.Any hard copies received will be returned at the completion of the project. All submissions become the property of the TRAA and final editing, as well as decisions to use or not use materials provided, is at the sole discretion of the TRAA or its designee. By submitting your images and/or videos you agree to allow us to publish the material and you further agree to these terms.Materials can be submitted via e-mail to Jeffrey Godwin from the TRAA Public Relations Committee.Submissions via e-mail should be sent to jgodwin@towpartners.com and postal mail submissions can be sent to Jeffrey Godwin, P. O. Box 2349, Keller, TX 76244.

Nice Profile of KY Tower

Here's the story from the State-Journal:

With a smile and a joke, Willie Wilhoite has been boosting the spirits of motorists stranded by breakdowns and accidents for nearly a half century.

“I’m a people-person,” says Willie, a driver for Harrod’s Towing and Recovery. “I’ve never met a stranger. I like to joke and carry-on.”

He’s found hundreds of motorists crying or sullen on the side of the road after smashing up their cars. He says he always makes sure they’ve got a ride home. If not, Willie helps them find a hotel where they can spend the night.

“A lot of them say ‘I don’t know what I’d do without you.’”

His company has a contract with the city to handle wrecks.

Although a lot of clients are upset about wrecking their vehicles, Willie says he reminds them they’re lucky to escape serious injury or death.

“As long as you’re alright. But a car you can replace; the human body you can’t.”

However, not everyone’s receptive to Willie’s attempts at cheer. Sometimes the driver is too angry, or drunk, and all he can do is calm them down, Willie said.

“There are a lot of hot-heads out there.”

Sometimes, Willie’s towed friends or acquaintances after they had a wreck. Under the circumstances, he said they were glad to see him.

“It makes them feel secure.”

Willie recently responded to a wreck on the East-West Connector where a westbound blue four-door Ford overturned. The driver was transported to Frankfort Regional Medical Center but was not seriously injured.

After she was released, she came to Harrod’s garage to thank Willie for his work – although her vehicle was totaled.

In that instance, Willie attached chains from his tow truck, which he calls “Big Red,” to the side opposite the wrecked car. Then he raised the boom and flipped the car to right side up.

“I just bait my hook, throw it out, see what I got and reel it in,” Willie said.

Safety is the primary concern, and it’s important to make sure the damaged or disabled vehicle won’t roll and hit another car while he’s loading it onto the wrecker, said Willie, a certified master tower.

“You have to know when to hook ’em and know when to tow ’em,” said Willie – a parody of Kenny Rogers’ 1978 hit “The Gambler.”

However, not every wreck has a happy ending – Willie said he’s seen lots of accidents, which seriously injured or killed motorists. He said he worked one wreck where a hysteric lady was searching the wreck for her “baby.”

Willie and the firefighters pitched in but didn’t find anything.

Suddenly, the woman saw a little dog and shouted, “there he is.”

“Talk about relief in your heart,” Willie said.

Willie, 58, has 46 years of experience towing cars – he got his start at the age of 12. His first job was at a Standard Oil station in Owen County were he washed cars, cleaned the offices and helped his brother with the towing.

“We didn’t have modern hydraulics,” Willie said. “We did it by hand-crank.”

Despite the hard work, Willie enjoyed the job.

“I liked meeting people and helping people that was broke down,” he said. “I liked being seen with the car on the back of the wrecker.”

Willie also enjoys tinkering with and restoring classic cars. He’s helping his son fix up a two-door hard top 1968 Ford Torino.

He’s also has an eight-acre farm with horses, goats and chickens.

“I call them my babies,” Willie said.

The other employees at Harrods also enjoy restoring old cars – there’s a 1965 Plymouth, a 1965 Chevelle, a 1969 Dodge Charger and a 1957 two-door Chevy hardtop sitting in the garage.

Willie said they tinker with them and the company’s fleet of more than a dozen wreckers between calls. It takes about one to three years to build a homemade wrecker, he said.

“It’s old equipment, but they’re dependable,” Willie said.

The garage’s lot is also filled with about 40 wrecked and abandoned cars. Willie said sometimes people will come back to get the tags and plates – others just leave everything behind.

If the vehicle sits long enough, Willie said they will try to get the title to the car. A 1962 Buick Electra’s been on the lot since 1989. There’s also a Plymouth Special Deluxe with the keys still in the ignition.

“I hate to see a car sit tore up,” he said. “I like to try and bring it back to life.”

“Frankfort Faces” is a series that highlights people from within the Frankfort and Franklin County community. Each feature follows one of the city’s most unique personalities and includes a story, photos and video, which can be found by clicking the TV icon attached to the story online at state-journal.com.

Four-Year Sentence For Crash That Killed NY Tow Truck Driver

Here's the Buffalo News story:

A Cheektowaga man was sentenced today [June 22] to up to four years in prison for a drunken driving crash that killed a working tow truck operator.

David Brown, 65, of Markus Drive, was taken into custody about 10 a.m. after State Supreme Court Justice Penny M. Wolfgang handed down the sentence. Wolfgang acknowledged Brown's "obvious remorse" for the death of Kevin Coffta on the southbound Niagara Thruway in the Town of Tonawanda about 5 a.m. April 2, 2008.

Brown pleaded guilty March 31 to vehicular manslaughter and misdemeanor drunken driving and had been free on $25,000 bail until today. His minimum prison term will be the next 16 months.

Coffta, 28 of Clarence Center, was standing outside his flatbed tow truck preparing to tow an abandoned vehicle when Brown's southbound SUV veered onto the shoulder, sideswiped the abandoned vehicle and struck Coffta.

Darlene Coffta, the mother of the victim who left a wife and a now-7-year-old son, tearfully told the judge and Brown her son was so horribly injured that "we never even gave him one last kiss and hug."

Darlene Coffta, who was accompanied to court by her husband Joseph and about two dozen friends and relatives, told Brown his prison term cannot compare "to the sentence you imposed on our family." She told Brown that in the end "God will give you what you deserve."

Before had spent the 14 hours before the crash in the Seneca Niagara Casino. Before being taken from court in handcuffs, stressed that he had not had a drink or gambled since the fatal incident. He told the judge he has sought solace with God and turned to the Cofftas and said of the fatal incident: "It hurts me just as much as it hurts" them.

mgryta@buffnews.com

SC Tow Truck Driver, Wife Plead Not Guilty In GA Man's Death

Here's the Augusta Chronicle story:

A South Carolina couple accused of running down an Augusta man with their tow truck pleaded not guilty to murder charges this afternoon.

Michael Faron Brown, 27, and Victoria Nichole Brown, 20, both of Gaston, S.C., pleaded not guilty to murder.

The Browns are accused of running over William Jacobs with their tow truck on April 9 while attempting to repossess a vehicle from a Martinez home.

In addition to murder, Mr. Brown is charged with aggravated assault with a motor vehicle, and Mrs. Brown is charged with battery.

Mr. Brown is being held in the Columbia County Detention Center without bond. Mrs. Brown is being held on a $50,000 bond, according to jail records.

From the Friday, July 10, 2009 online edition of The Augusta Chronicle.

Crash Injures UT Tow Truck Driver, Trooper

We hope that 57-year old Dave Belcher, co-owner of Park City Towing, recovers quickly and fully. He was seriously injured on Sunday, July 5. Here's the Park Record story:

A Utah Highway Patrol trooper and the driver of a Park City tow truck were injured Sunday when another driver hit a fifth wheel trailer parked on westbound Interstate 80.

According to the Highway Patrol, a pickup truck that had been pulling the fifth wheel wasn't drivable and needed towing after the truck lost a wheel when lug nuts came loose.

The traffic accident occurred at about 2:40 p.m. when the truck was struck by another driver, Utah Highway Patrol spokesman Cameron Roden said.

"They were on the left shoulder at Kimball Junction," Roden said. "They were hooking up the fifth wheel to the second tow truck when an individual fell asleep in an Audi and drifted off to the left The fifth wheel went into the other three individuals who were standing there."

The trooper needed stitches in his left hand to close a cut he suffered falling over a cable barrier in the highway median, Roden said, adding that the owner of the fifth wheel received minor injuries.

The most seriously injured was Park City Towing co-owner Dave Belcher, who is 57 years old. Belcher was working to attach his tow truck to the fifth wheel when the trailer was hit.

"Dave Belcher was trying to get the hitch on when the guy hit the back of the trailer and pushed the trailer up against the truck," said Brad Belcher, who works at Park City Towing. "Dave got his hand pinned between the fifth wheel kingpin and the truck."

Dave Belcher yelled at the owner of the fifth wheel to pull the tow

truck forward so he could free his hand. "It was just hanging by a thread," Brad Belcher said about his brother's thumb. "Basically, they just told him to slip his glove back on and just keep everything in his glove."

Doctors are hopeful they saved Belcher's thumb with more than four hours of surgery Sunday night.

"His thumb was reattached," Brad Belcher said. "They have him in observation and if it doesn't take, and he doesn't get circulation up in the thumb, they'll have to look at some other options."

The beefy design of the hitch on the fifth wheel might have saved Belcher's life, his brother said.

"It could have been way worse," Brad Belcher said.

A smaller trailer with a hitch that does not attach inside the bed of a pickup truck could have caused more serious injuries, he said. "It would have pinned him if it would have been a regular trailer," Brad Belcher said.

Meanwhile, the driver of the Audi, 48-year-old John R. Payne, suffered minor injuries and was issued a citation, Roden said.

Roden could not immediately say what the ticket charged Payne with or where he lives.

Two travel lanes on westbound Interstate 80 were closed for about an hour as troopers cleaned up from the crash, Roden said.

Belcher and Payne were taken in an ambulance to a Salt Lake City hospital. The hand of the trooper was treated at a Park City clinic.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Suit Filed In Death of CA Tow Truck Driver

Here's the Press-Enterprise story:
By DUG BEGLEY
The Press-Enterprise

The family of a tow-truck driver killed last year on Interstate 215 near Moreno Valley has sued Caltrans and a construction company, claiming design failures led to the fatal crash.

The lawsuit, filed June 17 in Riverside Superior Court, claims poor design of the truck lanes where I-215 and Highway 60 split near Moreno Valley and a lack of barriers between the truck lanes and the main route of I-215 from the freeway contributed to Gregory Gerbing's death on June 13, 2008, as he was kneeling on the side of the road.

The section of freeway, part of the larger 60/91/215 interchange project that snarled traffic from downtown Riverside to near Moreno Valley for more than five years, had recently opened. Overhead signs directing drivers had been up for less than a week when the wreck happened.

Gerbing, a tow-truck driver, was by his truck on the shoulder of the truck-only lanes leading to southbound I-215 kneeling as he prepared to tow another vehicle when he was struck by a pickup that careened from the main lanes, thinking he had missed the exit to I-215 southbound. The pickup's driver, Oswaldo Lopez, 29, of Moreno Valley, was later arrested and charged with driving under the influence and vehicular manslaughter.

Caltrans spokeswoman Rose Melgoza said Tuesday the lawsuit had not been served to the agency's legal counsel, and was unaware of the filing. Melgoza said a claim seeking damages for the accident -- a precursor to a lawsuit -- was filed with the district office in San Bernardino.

She said Caltrans would not comment further on pending lawsuits.

Though Lopez was drunk according to police, the lawsuit filed on behalf of Gerbing's widow and teenage daughter cites a lack of concrete medians or barriers that could have kept Lopez from shooting from one set of lanes to another.

Caltrans had been warned the confusing truck lanes, followed by other lanes leading to the southbound I-215, would lead to disaster, the Gerbings' lawyer, Kathleen Alparce, wrote in the lawsuit.

Some even criticized Caltrans publicly before the accident. Tom Owings, general manager of Raceway Ford, located close to where the accident happened, warned state workers a median was needed and better signs would help drivers understand the best route.

"The fact is, everyone knew that the lack of a median and proper signage would end with someone being killed," Owings wrote in an e-mail after the accident. "I hope the Caltrans managers that made the decision to ignore their own common sense can sleep at night."

Melgoza said officials do not have any plans to modify or add barriers at the intersection.

Reach Dug Begley at 951-368-9475 or dbegley@PE.com

Thursday, July 9, 2009

KY Man Accidentally Killed By Tow Truck

Our condolences to the family and acquaintances of 48-year old Eddie Goodlett, owner of Thurman Goodlett and Sons Scrap Metal & Wrecker Service of Harrodsburg, Ky., who died on July 1 when one of his rollbacks fell on him.

Here's the WKYT27 news story:

Those who knew 48-year-old Mercer County businessman Eddie Goodlett say he was well loved by the community.

On Wednesday, Goodlett, owner of Thurman Goodlett and Sons Scrap Metal & Wrecker Service in Harrodsburg was found dead in his Mercer County home, from what the coroner's office is ruling accidental, and 27 NEWSFIRST has been told Goodlett was working on one of his tow trucks when the rollback fell on him. He died of apparent suffocation.

His family says they hope to carry on the business to keep his memory alive. The family has set up an Eddie Goodlett Memorial Fund at the Main Source Bank in Harrodsburg.

His visitation will be held Friday from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Ransdell Funeral Chapel and his funeral on Saturday.

There will also be a Memorial Diesel Truck Pull at the Mercer County Motorsports Track at 7:00 p.m. on July 17 and 18.

UT Tow Truck Driver Seriously Injured

Here's the story from Justice News Flash:

Salt Lake City area tow truck driver injured in auto accident.

Salt Lake City, UT (JusticeNewsFlash.com—On Sunday, three men and a Utah Highway Patrol trooper were injured in a multi-vehicle collision on the shoulder of Interstate 80 in Utah. The accident occurred when an Audi struck a tow truck while it was attempting to connect to a fifth-wheel trailer from a disabled truck, according to the ParkRecord.com.

According to Utah Highway Patrol officials, a pickup truck, which was pulling a fifth-wheel trailer, was disabled along the westbound side of Interstate 80. The pickup truck wasn’t in a drivable condition at the time because the truck lost a wheel when the lug nuts came loose. Around 2:40 p.m. a Park City tow truck driver was attempting to connect the trailer to his tow truck when the driver of an Audi slammed into the back of the trailer. Apparently the driver fell asleep behind the wheel, rear-ended the trailer, which hit the three men working on the disabled trailer, injuring them all.

The Utah Highway Patrol trooper and the owner of the fifth-wheel trailer suffered injuries. The trooper was treated at a local Park City clinic where he received stitches in his left hand to close a cut he sustained when he fell over a cable barrier in the median. The tow truck driver, who is a co-owner of Park City Towing, David Belcher, 57, sustained serious injuries. Belcher’s hand became pinned in-between the fifth-wheel kingpin and the truck, almost ripping off Belcher’s thumb. The driver of the car, identified as John R. Payne, 48, was also injured. Both Belcher and Payne were transported by area emergency medical services (EMS) crews to a Salt Lake City Hospital for treatment of their injuries. Belcher’s thumb was reattached in a four-hour surgery on Sunday night. The driver was issued a citation for the automobile accident.

JusticeNewsFlash.com news for Utah automobile accident attorneys.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

TN Tow Company Sues Ford & Seller Over Malfunctioning Tow Truck

Here's the story from the Madison County Record:
A Tennessee towing company has filed suit against a Madison County truck sales company and Ford Motor Company, alleging it has experienced numerous problems with the tow truck it purchased.

Ray Phillips, doing business as Able's Towing, says he purchased a 2008 Ford F450, which is more commonly known as a tow truck, from Chevron Commercial Inc. in Madison County on Feb. 13, 2008.

For the vehicle, Phillips paid $73,002, according to the complaint filed June 26 in Madison County Circuit Court.

"Immediately upon receipt of the Vehicle from the Chevron Plaintiff experienced and continues to experience mechanical malfunctions, which inhibit full function of the Vehicle, and make the Vehicle unfit for the ordinary purpose for which it was purchased and to be used," the complaint says.

The mechanical malfunctions include the failure of the truck to heat and cool properly, the suit states.

Chevron originally purchased the truck from defendant Crossroads Ford Truck Sales, which should not have sold the truck because it was not fit for the purpose it was to be used, Phillips claims.

Ford breached its warranty because Phillips could not use the truck for the purpose he bought it.

In the four-count suit, Phillips is seeking a judgment of more than $200,000, plus attorney's fees, costs and other relief the court deems just.

Brian R. Kalb and Micah S. Summers of Byron, Gerber, Petri and Kalb in Edwardsville will be representing him.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 09-L-675.

TX Wrecker Driver Killed In Crash

Our condolences to the family and acquaintances of 27-year old tow truck driver Isidoro Ramirez, who died on Sunday, 7/5, while working to tow a vehicle on the side of the highway.

Here's the KRPC Local 2 News story:
In each of the past five weekends, someone has died in wrecks where a car was pulled over on the shoulder of a highway, KPRC Local 2 reported.
Houston police said 27-year-old Scott Huebner caused the most recent crash.Huebner is charged with criminally negligent homicide for allegedly veering off Highway 290 Sunday and killing a wrecker driver who was trying to tow a pickup truck that was abandoned on the shoulder.Isidoro Ramirez, 27, was pinned between his flatbed wrecker and the disabled pickup truck, police said. He died at the scene.Harris County Precinct 4's Chief Mark Herman said that if your car is drivable, drive to a safe parking lot instead of stopping on a shoulder. He said drivers need to use their best judgment when their vehicles are disabled."Me, myself, I would stay inside my my vehicle, keep something between (me and a possible oncoming vehicle) ... use your good judgment," he said.At least three of the five recent deadly accidents involved alleged drunken drivers

Here's the Houston Chronicle story:

HOUSTON — A man has been charged in the death of a wrecker driver who was killed while helping a motorist along a Houston highway.

Scott Huebner was being held Monday at the Harris County Jail on a charge of criminally negligent homicide.

Investigators suspect the 27-year-old was high when he caused the accident that killed 27-year-old Isidoro (EE-see-DOH'-roh) Ramirez on Sunday.

Houston police say Huebner was driving a pickup truck when he hit another vehicle on the highway shoulder. Ramirez had been standing between his flatbed wrecker and the vehicle that was struck. He was killed on impact.

No bond amount had been set and online records did not show an attorney for Huebner.


Towing & Trucking Permits Being Revoked in NM

Here's the info from the Insurance Journal:

The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (NMPRC) said it has revoked the operating authorities of nearly 85 trucking, towing and other transportation companies in the state for failing to file appropriate documents with its agency.

The Motor Carrier Act (NMSA 1978, 65 2A-1-40) makes it unlawful for any for-hire (motor) carrier to operate within tNew Mexico without having filed and maintained proof of its financial responsibility with the Commission as provided by state law.

In total, the Commission has taken action on 381 companies since May 5, 2009 when the NMPRC revoked 36 operating authorities, another 86 on May 19, 2009, 85 on June 2, 2009 and 89 on June 16, 2009, all mostly towing or trucking operations in the state.

With this recent action taken by the full NMPRC, motor carriers have been put on notice that they cannot continue to operate or provide service in violation of the provisions of the Motor Carrier Act. Violations subject a motor carrier to penalties of up to $10,000 per day for each violation, plus penalties and administrative fines.

For more information, visit www.nmprc.state.nm.us.