A Maryland tow truck driver was killed yesterday in a two-vehicle crash in King George County.
According to Virginia State Police Trooper A.M. Bowen, who was called to the scene on Dahlgren Road, approximately two miles east of Route 610 or Indiantown Road at about 1:34 p.m., a 1995 International tow truck was traveling west on Route 206 when it crossed the centerline and struck a 1999 Ford F-250 traveling eastbound.
The driver of the tow truck, Ryan O. Robinson, 34, of Montgomery Village, Md., died at the scene. He was not wearing his seat belt, police said.
The driver of the F-250, David L. Warring, 37, of Fredericksburg, was injured in the crash and transported by ambulance to Mary Washington Hospital. Warring was released from the hospital.
He was wearing his seat belt at the time of the accident.
The cause of the crash is still under investigation.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
MANCELONA -- A Mancelona man remains hospitalized after a vehicle struck him as he stood on the side of the road.
The victim, 33, an employee at Ken's Towing in Mancelona, removed a vehicle from U.S. 131 near Wabash Avenue Saturday night when a vehicle headed south hit him and his tow truck.
The victim remains at Munson Medical Center in Traverse City, said Michigan State Police Lt. Richard Simpson.
Police have not released the victim's name, but said his injuries are not life-threatening.
The female driver of the vehicle, 22, of Kalkaska, was not injured, police said.
No tickets were issued. Speed and alcohol were not factors in the crash, Simpson said.
Monday, December 21, 2009
A woman hit and injured a tow truck driver trying to get a car out of the side of the road near Mancelona.
The accident happened around 8:00 Saturday night on US-131, near Wabash Street.
Police say while the tow truck driver with Ken's Towing was operating his truck, a car traveling south hit him. The tow truck driver was taken to Munson Medical Center for his injuries. The woman from Kalkaska driving the car was not hurt.
Troopers want to remind drivers to slow down and move over when approaching stationary emergency or service vehicles.
ATLANTIC CITY - A tow truck driver responding to an accident at 11:57 a.m. Sunday was struck by a Ford pickup truck at milepost 2 on the eastbound side of the Atlantic City Expressway, State Police said.
Luis Perez, 32, was in fair condition Sunday night at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, City Campus.
Police said the pickup truck driver, whose name was not available, apparently lost control of the vehicle. Conditions on the expressway were fairly clear, police said, but there were some sections with blowing snow and slush.
Another expressway crash happened at 5 p.m. Sunday, when an eastbound Chrysler 300 went off-road into the median at milepost 12 in Hamilton Township.
An unidentified passenger complained of chest pains and was taken to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, Mainland Campus in Galloway Township, police said.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
A tow yard in Linda employs nearly a dozen people. Its owner, Dick Sanchez, has contributed to community causes for decades. Yuba County officials said they want his business to stay in Yuba County.
Just not where it's at now.
The tow yard on Lindhurst Avenue is in limbo between full operations and being a nonpermitted business after the county Board of Supervisors turned down an appeal last week by Sanchez to keep Sanchez Truck Repair and Towing open despite a Planning Commission decision against it.
Kevin Mallen, director of Yuba County's Community Development and Services Agency, said his staff will begin meeting in the next few weeks to decide on options for where else in the county Sanchez might move his operation, which is similar to a tow yard he's operated for several years in Yuba City.
"There definitely needs to be an exit strategy for those businesses at their current location," Mallen said of the Linda site.
At issue is zoning in the area of Lindhurst Avenue where Sanchez's business is located. Earlier this year, planning staff asked planning commissioners to decide whether a tow yard facility fit under a "commercial" designation for the area, suggesting it might not.
Sanchez said he'd gotten no such feedback from the county when he first opened the Lindhurst site a few years ago.
"I've met all the conditions they wanted for a conditional-use permit, and I think I should have one," Sanchez said at the appeal hearing.
But after several meetings in the fall, the commission decided his business didn't qualify, and denied a conditional-use permit.
Supervisors considered the appeal at length before ultimately denying it on a 4-1 vote. Supervisor Andy Vasquez, who represents Linda and who'd spoke on behalf of Sanchez's business during planning commission meetings, cast the only vote against denial.
Sanchez, who said Friday he didn't want to comment, told supervisors he believed he was being forced out in favor of more attractive retail businesses of the kind the county hopes to attract along Lindhurst Avenue.
His suspicion was somewhat supported by Ian Wallace, a county resident who told supervisors he hopes to develop a small retail center on property near the tow yard.
"What's the betterment to Lindhurst Avenue from tow yards?" Wallace said at the meeting, adding he'd once turned down an offer to establish a tow yard on his property because of the zoning concern. "There's a planning concept known as 'the highest and best use,' and this is going backwards."
Mallen said Sanchez's fears have some merit, as the recently completed General Plan update identified Lindhurst and nearby North Beale Road as prime places for retail and some housing.
Businesses like Sanchez's, he said, might be more ideally situated near the Yuba County Airport or along Highway 65 on Rancho Road.
"Tow facilities are outdoor uses, and we have to figure out the best place for those," Mallen said, adding the county may need more zoning for them than what's already designated.
The county will meet with Sanchez early next year, Mallen said, to come up with a new plan for where his business can go.
Contact Appeal-Democrat reporter Ben van der Meer at 749-4709 or bvandermeer@ appealdemocrat.com. For more Yuba County news, see Ben's blog "Yuba County Insider" at appealdemocrat.com.
Like any industry, the towing and collision business has its share of grinches. And it turns out it has a few Santas as well.
And thanks to a trio of caring St. Nicks, Vincent McCarthy is down on his luck no more.
A few days ago, our headline had read "No truck and no luck." The 63-year-old had lost his job, then his home and finally his truck holding some of his most precious possessions -- a file cabinet filled with artwork and cards from his kids.
It's been a string of misfortunes for the charming, guitar-playing former truck driver born in New Brunswick.
A recovering alcoholic of more than 30 years, he blames losing his driving job on his recently diagnosed sleep apnea. He'd also worked as a mover but business was slow. So he fell behind on his mortgage payments and last month, his Etobicoke house was repossessed.
He was forced to scatter his furniture and other possessions in different spots, including a storage locker and his 1995 Chevy cube van. With nowhere to go, he even slept in the truck for a few nights while parked in his old driveway until the mortgage company told him to move it -- or they would.
"I was a basket case," recalls McCarthy, who suffers from depression and what his doctor now suspects is bipolar disorder.
Of the divorced dad's five children, three are too young to help and the two older ones have serious troubles of their own. With nowhere else to turn, he finally parked his truck on a dead-end side street in Etobicoke while he went to live in a homeless shelter in Brampton.
"It was wishful thinking," concedes McCarthy of his hopes that he could leave the old Chevy there until he found somewhere to live.
Not surprisingly, after three parking tickets, Toronto Police had Bill & Son Towing haul it away on Nov. 27. And in their Atlas Ave. yard it sat for almost three weeks, racking up $72 a day in storage fees plus a $325 towing charge because the homeless man had no money to bail it out.
With the outrageous bill quickly approaching $2,000, McCarthy had gone in to tell the tow company of his string of bad luck, but theywere unmoved. Even when he asked only to remove his personal belongings from the back -- an old fridge, stove, the filing cabinet filled with memories -- he was told to hit the road. They told him that after 60 days, the truck and everything in it would be sold to cover what he owed.
It was only after Councillor Rob Ford got involved and the Toronto Sun showed up that Bill & Son Towing agreed to let McCarthy take his possessions -- but they still refused to waive one penny on towing and storing his cube van.
"It burns me up when I hear stuff like this," said Ford, who had planned to go down with McCarthy to confront the tow company tomorrow. "He's in a shelter, he has nobody, he has nothing and these guys are giving him the screws."
When the story appeared here Thursday, a woman in the industry -- too afraid to have her real name used -- called to say she was outraged. "This is the most disgusting thing I've ever seen," said "Susan."
She contacted friends in the business and they agreed something had to be done. By 7:15 that morning, as McCarthy was eating his cornflakes at the Salvation Army shelter, he got a message that help was on its way.
He's been grinning ever since.
Robert Polillo had also read the story and the owner of Express Roadside Recovery admits he was not surprised that a tow company could be so heartless, "especially in our beautiful industry."
Polillo quickly volunteered to bail him out. "I was in a position to help him and my heart told me to help him."
Polillo, 42, sent one of his drivers to pick McCarthy up from the shelter, buy him breakfast and then take him to the impound yard to pay his bill of more than $1,700.
"I've been helped before and I wanted to pass it on," he explains modestly.
"Especially at this time of year, it was hard to swallow."
Susan then called Lorenzo D'Alessandro, one of the owners of 427 Collision, and he agreed to store McCarthy's truck until the homeless man finds some place to live. He also volunteered to help Polillo out with the hefty tow bill.
"He's been rescued for now," Susan says. "Hopefully we can get this guy back on his feet."
McCarthy met his three guardian angels in person yesterday and couldn't thank them enough. "I'm elated," he told them. "I've got to pinch myself that all of this is true."
McCarthy has also had help from members of his church, the owners of Little Bit of Home Pub and Grill on Lake Shore have offered to host a fundraiser for him in the new year and his former colleagues at Dufferin Concrete called to tell him they were getting a collection together for him.
In the meantime, he's busking around the Kipling subway station singing Christmas carols and hoping to have his Ontario Works application approved next week so he can get some rent money and move out of the shelter.
"I never dreamed this would happen because of the article," says the grateful McCarthy. "It's going to be a terrific holiday after all."
And I hope it is for all of you as well.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
ELKHART – At first glance, it looked like a full-blown emergency on Main Street in Elkhart Saturday morning, but it was actually a rescue. Tow truck operators from the Chicago area joined with their local brethren to donate toys to needy area children
“I love to see all the tow trucks coming together. It gave me the tingles. It really did,” explained Brittany Mast. Mast is an employee of Tom’s 24-Hour Towing in the Elkhart area.
Tow truck operators and their families joined with Elkhart firefighters to load the toys onto trailers destined for the Tolson Center, Salvation Army and Faith Mission.
“Happy holidays,” was the greeting that many of the relief agencies greeted the donors with as they gratefully accepted hundreds of toys.
The Tow Trucks for Tots concept is the brainchild of Patrick Winer, who owns Worldwide Equipment Sales. The company sells tow trucks. It’s based out of Chicago, but this year the drivers didn’t need a star to lead them east.
“We had some extra toys this year, and we thought ‘What can we do with them?’” Winer said. He says since Elkhart had such high unemployment, he wanted to bring the toys here. He hopes other businesses will follow his lead and make similar donations.
So why tow trucks? In this Economy, many of these drivers play a role in repos. They want people to know they are more like Santa than the Grinch.
“Yeah, usually people don’t like us. They say we steal their cars. We do have a bad image, so we’re trying to change that with this stuff,” said Tony West. He was driving a truck labeled “60 Ton Tator.” He got up at 3 a.m. on Saturday to make the trek to Elkhart with the toys.
Councilman Arvis Dawson gave the tow truck drivers a proclamation from the city on behalf of Mayor Dick Moore.
“I want all the kids to know this is want an angel looks like,” dawson said.
Charlotte Applewhite is the director of Tolson Center.
“The need has tripled. We get calls daily,” she said.The Tolson Center will distribute the toys it received on December 23 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. on a first come, first serve basis.
Drivers whose cars are towed often call the Fayetteville Police Department to find out what happened to their vehicles.
Often, police have no clue.
The department wants to change that by requiring towing operators to report electronically where vehicles are towed. Anyone with Web access, including the Police Department, could then quickly find information about vehicles towed from accident scenes, roadsides or private property.
Electronic reporting is one of several proposals the Police Department is pushing in the first major overhaul to the city's wrecker ordinance since it was adopted in the 1960s.
Other proposals include banning tow-truck drivers with felony records, requiring additional driver training and making towing companies have at least one medium-sized truck in their fleets to handle larger vehicles.
Police Sgt. Eric Dow, who is overseeing the proposed changes, said the department wants to simplify things for residents and help make the towing industry more professional.
The City Council was prepared to vote on the changes last month when members of the Cumberland County Wrecker Owners Association raised several concerns. The council agreed to have the city's wrecker review board discuss the proposals and consider recommendations from the association's lawyer, Michael McGovern of Knoxville, Tenn.
Mayor Tony Chavonne said the city needs to update the wrecker ordinance, but he wanted to give towing companies one more chance for input.
The wrecker review board met Tuesday and covered several of the proposals, including electronic reporting. The board plans to meet once more before the revised ordinance goes back to the City Council in January.
Electronic reporting would require towing operators to buy laptops or smart phones with Internet access, if they haven't already. They would be required to log information about vehicles they tow by using free, Web-based software accessible to the public. They would have to input the information within an hour after a tow during the day, or by 9 a.m. the next business day if the tow is after 5 p.m.
Some wrecker companies object to the electronic reporting. But Councilman Bill Crisp told the wrecker review board that he supports the requirement. He said the Internet "is here to stay, and you will have a year to come into compliance. We need an electronic system of reporting and handling these calls."
Dow said the Police Department has a rotation list with 34 towing companies that are summoned for accidents, abandoned vehicles and other situations. More than 7,000 vehicles are towed each year from this list. He said police don't always know immediately where vehicles are taken.
Many vehicles in the city are towed from private property without a police call. The proposed electronic reporting requirement would apply in those situations, too, Dow said.
He said about half the companies on the rotation already use electronic reporting. The Police Department's Web site has a link to the electronic reports.
The rest of the proposed changes to the ordinance would apply only to towing companies on the police rotation list.
Mark Norton, a towing operator who is on the wrecker review board, said some opposition to the changes can't be helped.
"But we have to work with the Police Department," he said. "The goal is we want to be professionals."
TAMPA - Legislation designed to crack down on rogue towing companies who prey on motorists in Tampa and Hillsborough County is headed for Tallahassee.
Hillsborough County lawmakers today gave a nod to a bill that would give the county's Public Transportation Commission enforcement powers over towing companies that target cars on private business property without the owner's written permission.
Victor DiMaio, a lobbyist for the commission, said the panel has received numerous complaints about towing companies patrolling neighborhoods for cars parked outside restaurants and other businesses, shaking down motorists for hefty towing charges.
He said law enforcement agencies are too overwhelmed to deal with the problem.
Approval of the measure by the 16-member delegation means it will be submitted for consideration by the state House and Senate in the upcoming legislative session. The legislation was offered in this year's session, but never made it to the floor for a vote.
Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Valrico, a frequent critic of the transportation commission from her time as a county commissioner, cast the lone dissenting vote against it, which was sponsored by State Rep. Rich Glorioso, R-Plant City and Sen. Victor Crist, R-Tampa.
The towing legislation was one of several local bills approved by the delegation during its annual organization meeting today at the University of South Florida's Tampa campus.
Another bill – which was also given a nod by the delegation – sponsored by Storms and Glorioso, would to make it easier for citizens to challenge the rules of the transportation commission by giving the state more regulatory authority over its rulings and policies.
The legislation delegation also approved a bill to make changes to Tampa's pension plan system for general employees so that it complies with all federal regulations.
State Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, who is sponsoring the bill, said it also empowers the Tampa City Council to alter the plan to conform to future changes of federal law.
If the bill doesn't pass, the city could face fines from federal regulators, City Attorney Chip Fletcher said. The bill, he said, would not alter benefits or contribution levels.
Another bill sponsored by Joyner would make it easier for Tampa's firefighters and police officers to decide where a portion of their pension contributions is invested.
"This gives employees an opportunity to choose less risky investments," Fletcher said.
Those proposed changes must still be approved by the city's police and fire unions.
Metro police investigators say speed and rainy weather were factors in a deadly crash on Friday near Cane Ridge High School.
The crash, involving a Bailey's Wrecker Service flatbed and a Toyota Yaris, occurred at about 11:30 a.m. The driver of the Yaris, a 59-year-old Antioch woman, died at the scene. Police are not releasing her name pending notification to her family.
The driver of the wrecker, Randall Hall, 40, of Hendersonville, was not injured in the crash.
Police say Hall may have been driving too fast in rainy conditions when he lost control of the wrecker, crossed into oncoming traffic, hit a rock wall and then rotated back onto the pavement, where the wrecker was rear-ended by the Toyota.— NICOLE YOUNG
NORTHEAST MIAMI-DADE, Fla. (WSVN) -- A South Florida business is devastated by an out of control tow truck.
Police said the driver of the tow truck fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into a kitchen and bath store Thursday along Northeast 111th Street and Biscayne Boulevard.
The accident caused about $100,000 worth of damage. "This is a catastrophe for our business it really couldn't be any worse," said Simone Mayer, owner of Real.life.Basic. "You hope that this will never happen, but really it could have been so much worse. As bad as it is, it could've been worse."
The tow truck driver was arrested on an existing traffic violation.
The business was deemed unsafe and has since been shut down.
Friday, December 18, 2009
VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) - With the Olympics on the way Vancouver towing companies have to prepare for the extra work load. And while it's the city that writes the tickets, it's the tow trucks that do the dirty work. There will be more cars on the road, more areas closed off and more anticipated breakdowns. Buses carrying athletes, spectators and dignitaries will also be crowding Vancouver streets in the months to come.
Vern Campbell of Buster's Towing in Vancouver says they have been making preparations in anticipation of the extra work. Campbell says that because so many zones will be closed, until people get used to it there will be an increase in work load.
Buster's will be assigning double the number of trucks to the road and have contracted with friends in the business to supplement the number of trucks should the need arise. And what happens if one of those buses carrying athletes or spectators breaks down? Campbell says Buster's has double tandem axel trucks that haul large buses at the ready.
But if you want to avoid being towed its simple; pay attention to the signs.
How many of you feel this way? Here's the Kankakee Daily Journal story:
Working on Christmas Day is really no big deal for George Mosier, of Bradley.
"I don't think I've taken a whole day off in 40 years," he said. "That's not the way the towing business works."
So, the 54-year-old tow truck driver expects at least six calls each on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. (Yes, he started at 14, with an old hand-crank system on the back of a pickup.)
"Usually, it's something careless, like people getting locked out of their car or leaving the lights on and running down the battery. But bad weather can change everything."
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
otati resident Donald B. Head spent most of his life driving trucks, even after he and his wife purchased a Cotati bar more than four decades ago. Here's the story from the Press Democrat.
Head died Tuesday at his home after a long battle with cancer. He was 75.
Head spent many years driving big rigs, including his own truck. Even as the owner of the Cotati Beer Gardens, he regularly drove a special wrecker for Andreoli Trucking that could tow tractor trailer rigs.
“He drove the tow truck until he was 72,” said his wife of 47 years, Joan Head.
Born in Eureka, Head grew up in Oakland and Richmond. His father drove trucks for West Transportation, a company the son eventually also worked for.
Head served in the U.S. Army’s 11th Airborne Division during the Korean War.
He came to Cotati about 40 years ago. In the early 1970s his wife and he purchased a bar and renamed it to the Cotati Beer Gardens. They owned it until the late 1980s.
Family members described Head as strong and independent, someone who enjoyed people but also could work alongside police to handle an unruly bar patron.
“He was such a man’s man,” said his daughter, Danise Head of Cotati.
But he also enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren. And Joan Head said he raised her son Everett Wicker as his own from the time the boy was 2-years-old. Wicker died in 1996.
Head was a member of Berean Baptist Church in Rohnert Park. With his family, he belonged to the Rancho Riders horse club.
Along with his wife and daughter, survivors include another daughter, Ladona Rossiter of Cotati, a sister, Marilyn Cramlett of Hercules; a brother, Robert Head of Mississippi; and eight grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Dec. 12 at Berean Baptist Church.
The family prefers memorial contributions in care of the church to the Berean Baptist Christian Academy.
— Robert Digitale
A Multnomah County judge said she was deeply disturbed by a man who stole cars under the guise of running a legitimate towing company. She then sentenced Ryan Patrick Joynt -- who became notorious to dozens of car owners across the metro area -- to nearly seven
years in prison.
MCSOA mental-health professional who interviewed the 27-year-old for the judge described Joynt as a "conscienceless predator" and "aggressively narcissistic." Joynt had no sympathy for those he stole from, the report said. Instead, he painted himself as the victim, saying he was facing prison only because police and the prosecutor were out to get him.
Joynt was found guilty in September of 14 felonies. Friday, he appeared before the judge with an entirely new attitude as he pleaded with her to be lenient. He said he was sorry for all the harm that he'd caused.
"I've realized that I've made some bad choices in the past, (but) I feel I have a lot to offer the community," Joynt said.
"And what would that be?" the judge asked.
"Working with charities and attending college, hopefully," Joynt answered.
Judge Janice Wilson paused before issuing Joynt a six-year 10-month sentence. She told him what he'd said sounded "very nice" but "I don't believe a word of it." She also ordered him to pay more than $73,000 back to victims.
During his seven-day trial in September, Joynt claimed he took the cars of three people in legitimate business dealings. He admitted to working as a driver for Set Towing, but the prosecutor argued that Joynt was really the driving force behind the company.
In one case, prosecutor Chuck Mickley said that Joynt had a Set Towing driver tow away a man's Dodge truck at the Sandy Mobile Villa in August 2008, even though it was legally parked. The owner said that when he tried to get his truck back by calling Set Towing, the man on the other end of the line refused to tell him where his truck was or how much he'd have to pay to get it back.
Police, who were growing more suspicious of the company because of dozens of other complaints, got the man's truck back a few days later after serving a search warrant at the tow lot.
Joynt's girlfriend, Anna Elizabeth Alonzo, was convicted of theft, among other charges, and was sentenced in June to a little more than a year in prison.
Joynt was convicted of trafficking in stolen vehicles, theft and forgery, among other crimes.
Joynt's attorney, Des Connall, didn't name a specific amount of time he thought Joynt should be in prison, but asked for leniency.
Joynt could end up spending fewer than five years in prison if he receives 30 percent off his sentence for good behavior.
He also faces theft charges in a case in Washington County.
-- Aimee Green
Craig and Gerald Goldbeck were trying to scare up money last week, but found it in an unexpected way.
The men were calling on customers of their Goldbeck Towing business in Onalaska when they noticed something on Hwy. 16.
"That looks like money laying there," Craig Goldbeck said. His father agreed.
"Sure enough, it was money," Goldbeck said. "And a lot of it."
They started picking up $20 bills, some of them in stacks of four or five.
Somebody's got to be missing this, Goldbeck thought. They called police, and sure enough, someone was.
Earlier in the day, an employee of an area business - which Goldbeck said is a client and preferred not to be named - drove off with a bank bag containing $3,000 on the vehicle's hood.
An officer joined the search, and they eventually recovered $2,860.
Did Goldbeck ever think he'd hit the jackpot?
"It wasn't our money," he said. "That thought never crossed our mind."
The Goldbecks were rewarded for their honesty and sharp eyes: The business owner sent them a box of steaks.
Monday, December 14, 2009
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When Fire Hits Home - You just can't believe it actually happened?
House Fire Destroys everything on Potter St - Cranston, Rhode Island Nov. 22nd, 2009
leaving family of 7 - Homeless in a matter of seconds.
This is a special donation page set up by Patrick Bonanno from Hybrid Hazards Co. Warwick, Rhode Island 401-781-4357 in behalf of my family members Stephen and Lisa Hay, my 3 grand children, my step daughter and boy friend.
On Nov. 22nd - approx 4:30AM their home on Potters St Cranston, RI when up in flames leaving all 7 of them homeless in a matter of seconds
At first we had all of them pile in with my wife and I, but thanks to the Red Cross are now in temp housing waiting for insurance to kick in.
The fire totally devastated the house and everything inside that everyone owned that morning and to make things worse, it was Stephen's birthday.
The good news that we are most grateful for is that NO ONE WAS HURT / all of my grandchildren who normally sleep upstairs in the house were at a sleep over at a relative's house that night - thank God. All 4 grown ups got out of the house in time without injury --- All 4 grown ups have full time jobs and are going to work every day since the disaster struck and all of my grandchildren are right back in school as usual. / whew!
Now everyone involved totally understand that the economy is in the dumps and people are out of work and homeless every where you look, so our kids and grand children understand that this Xmas will for sure be much different then those in the past. I've told them all to be grateful we all have each other in times like this and don't expect much of anything great to happen between now and Xmas financially or materialistic for that matter so try to relax as much as you can and enjoy each other's presence.
Because of the fact that I have access to web development tools and know how to generate online input forms, I had to make an attempt to reach out to everyone I could contact in order to attempt to bring in a few dollars in their direction / thus the creation of this special donation page.
If you can spare a few dollars in their behalf I assure you it will be well appreciated by myself, my wife and my entire family!
There isn't much more form me to say here, except that the donation buttons are below.
God Bless all of you for being here today!
Whatever is collected between now and Xmas will be handed to the family here at my house on Xmas morning in hopes of enlightening their journey to recovery! Those of you who prefer to send a check please make them payable to:
"Stephen Hay" and mail them to C/O Stephen Hay - 75 Wingate Avenue - Warwick, Rhode Island - 02888
Please do not mail gifts because there is hardly enough room for them to live right now where they are all staying and they have (0) storage.
Each year, Amanda Adolf of Preferred Towing in California honors an outstanding young tower who has contributed within the towing industry.
The goal of the “Young Towers Achievement Award” (YTAA) is to nationally recognize young towers who have made contributions and/or achievements within the towing industry.The annual winner will receive $500 and a 9” crystal award personalized with their name (may vary slightly from the above pictured). We also hope to offer an article featured in one of the towing industry publications.
Click here to read the rules and nominate a deserving young tower today!
WEST COVINA - As the eldest of five children raised during the Great Depression, Harold Edward Blackard learned the value of hard work and responsibility at a young age.
While his father worked in the orange groves of Covina, Blackard helped watch over his younger siblings and dropped out of Covina High School his sophomore year to help his family financially.
The longtime West Covina resident died Nov. 19 at the age of 86.
"He was a very hard worker," Blackard's daughter Carolyn Lee said. "He was always there for us."
Blackard's work ethic translated into success later in life. At 21 years old, he opened a small gas station on Citrus Avenue and San Bernadino Road.
A couple of years later, he built Blackard's Super Service, which included a towing service.
Through his business, Blackard worked with several local police and fire departments, clearing vehicles involved from traffic accidents from the roads.
His family said he was always willing to help the community, even towing vehicles for people who didn't have the money to pay for the services.
"People couldn't really believe that anybody still did business like that," Blackard's grandson Kevin Lee said.
Carolyn Lee said many people didn't skip out on the bill either.
"Most people returned," she said. "He always was really positive about people and never thought anything negative about anybody."
But Blackard wasn't all work and no play. The father of three loved to water ski at the family home in Parker, Ariz.
He spread his love of the hobby to his family and friends as well.
"Daddy taught everybody how to water ski all day long," Carolyn Lee said. "He never cared how long he stayed out there."
Born Nov. 25, 1922 in Arkansas, Blackard moved to California when he was about 12 years old.
He met his wife during a Halloween party in Glendora and the two married in Las Vegas in 1942.
They later designed and built their own home in West Covina.
"He is going to be really missed by a lot of people," Carolyn Lee said. "By family, friends and everybody. He really was a very positive person."
Blackard is survived by his wife Gladys, daughters Carolyn, Bonnie and Debbie, six grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
By JOHN R. PULLIAMPosted Dec 12, 2009 @ 04:43 PMLast week’s storm, which featured high wind, whiteouts and bitterly cold temperatures, is a perfect opportunity to highlight some people who go out into the teeth of the storm to help the rest of us get through these severe weather events.
The storm, which began Tuesday and delivered its hardest blows Wednesday, caused power outages, vehicles to be involved in accidents and to slide into ditches. This was the first big winter storm of the season, which always makes things a bit more challenging as motorists try to remember how to drive during winter weather.
Who are some of these unsung heroes that, in some cases, risk life and limb to lend a helping hand? On Wednesday, tow truck drivers were out because of traffic accidents and cars in ditches.
Driving in white-out conditions is bad enough, think of being on the edge of the highway, hooking a car to a tow truck or getting a vehicle on a car carrier as motorists drive by, barely able to see the road. While most people seemed to be using common sense while driving in rural areas Wednesday, it was still a dangerous situation. Police helped by briefly closing some highways, such as U.S. 34 between Galesburg and Wataga, to allow towing companies to catch up getting vehicles out of ditches without worrying about another one spinning into them where they were working.
AmerenIP, AmerenCILCO and other area utilities have employees who probably are not dreaming so much of a white Christmas. Or, if they are, more one of the gently falling flakes rather than blizzard-like conditions of last week. Employees from the utilities had power restored to most affected areas by 9:30 a.m. Thursday. Again, working in 50 mph winds, sometimes being up on utility poles, is a service that helps us all. Yes, these people are paid to do their jobs, but this work requires well-trained employees who know how to do their jobs without getting injured.
Snow plow drivers also have to deal with all manner of hazards. Conditions were bad enough overnight Wednesday that Knox County did not send its crews out. City and county snow plow drivers did more salting than plowing during this storm, but the slick conditions are a danger as they drive, as well as the concern that a motorist may not see them in time or may hit a patch of ice and plow into one of the trucks.
Yes, we have winter storms every year in Illinois — which is why I dream of spending these months in warmer climes — but that doesn’t mean it’s any easier for the people who have to go out into dangerous weather. Some news outlets seem more intent on scaring people to death, saving them the hazards of the storm, I suppose. My intention is not to label this Stormaggedon, as one person did in a very cleverly written e-mail I received Wednesday, but just to point out we all need to be careful out there.
There are many others I could name that have to deal with these conditions; there’s no way I can list all of them. The bottom line — I like to use humor in my columns, but storms such as we had last week — while much worse in Iowa and north of here — are no laughing matter. Thanks to all the men and women who were out there helping the rest of us. When you have to drive in those conditions, watch out for your friends and neighbors who may be the ones out there trying to make your life a little easier.
And, use common sense. If you have a commute to Peoria or the Quad Cities and conditions are such that you’re putting yourself at risk, let your employer know and stay home. Christmas is coming and so is more winter weather. Be safe this holiday season and all winter; if you get a chance to say “thanks” to someone who has to work outside in our “wonderful” Illinois storms, take the time to do so.
John Pulliam is business editor of The Register-Mail. Contact him at email@example.com or 343-7181, Ext. 215.
An 1,150-pound Tampa woman needed to get to a hospital, but there was no ambulance that could accommodate her.
"She was having cardiac arrest," recalled Stepp, 40, of Stepp's Towing Service.
The Tampa firefighters who responded called Stepp, and a crew removed the exterior wall of the woman's bedroom in her first-floor apartment.
Several men, including paramedics, emergency medical technicians and tow-truck staff, rolled the woman onto four stretchers they had fashioned together using heavy-duty straps.
A tow truck with a boom attached maneuvered and parked sideways as close as it could get to the woman, who was either in her late 30s or early 40s, as far as Stepp can recall.
Then the boom was moved above her and, with the help of cabled winches, she was lifted up and carried outside. Her mattress was moved to the waiting flat-bed truck and she was gently placed on it and strapped down. Paramedics joined her and police escorts surrounded the truck for the 10 mph ride to St. Joseph's Hospital, where she died later that day.
Another method needed
There's nothing dignified about being hoisted onto a flatbed truck because you're too large fit in an ambulance.
But that was the method resorted to for many years in emergency situations. With obesity on the rise in this country, however, ambulance companies, both public and private, are catering to the needs of the morbidly obese - or bariatric patients, as they are called in the industry.
Obesity affects more than one-third of American adults, or about 72 million people, according to The Obesity Society. In Florida, 24 percent of the adult population is obese, according to 2008 statistics. More than 60 percent of the U.S. population is considered overweight.
The obesity problem continues to grow and is considered an epidemic. In 1995, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that no more than 20 percent of the population in each of the 50 states was considered obese. In 2008, only one state - Colorado - could make that claim.
In recent years, fire rescue departments and private medical transport companies have been addressing the needs of these patients.
Some are purchasing larger ambulances while others have been acquiring larger-capacity stretchers.
About five years ago, American Medical Response's west Florida division started turning its attention to bariatric patients. Of their 43 ambulances serving Hillsborough, Pasco, Hardee and Highland counties, four are larger bariatric units, said Tom Diaz, general manager for that division.
"We were looking for a safer and more dignified way of transporting bariatric patients," he said.
The bariatric units are outfitted with specialized equipment, such as larger blood-pressure cuffs, larger stretchers and winches to maneuver patients.
"It was a really tough challenge moving larger patients, and we all have horror stories about it when time is of the essence," Diaz said. "That's what drove us in this direction."
For several years, American Medical Response ambulances were called on from several Tampa Bay area counties when bariatric patients were in trouble. They still receive some calls but they come less frequently now that public ambulance services are getting their own equipment.
In 2008, American Medical Response sent out bariatric units about 1,300 times. This year, the number has decreased, said Diaz, but they have been used more than 1,000 times. Many of those calls, however, aren't emergency situations.
"These patients have more medical concerns, so they get moved frequently," Diaz said.
Three years ago, Tampa Fire Rescue purchased a bariatric unit, now known as Rescue 20, based in Tampa Palms.
Since then, it's been requested 88 times - 57 times in the city, 16 times in Hillsborough County and 15 times by Plant City, said Capt. Bill Wade.
Before American Medical Response created its fleet, anyone weighing more than 400 pounds had to be transported on a flatbed truck, Wade said, "providing no dignity for the patient and no safety for the paramedics."
"The flatbed was a poor option, but at the time it was the only option," he said.
Rescue 20 was purchased for about $200,000, about $30,000 more than a typical rescue unit, Wade said. The unit also has a bariatric stretcher which can hold about 400 pounds more than the standard 300-pound capacity gurney.
A cost-effective option
In Pasco County, fire rescue officials decided to go the more economical (but perhaps more readily available) route. Instead of purchasing a special transport unit, Pasco has placed bariatric-capable stretchers on all 21 of its rescue units.
"We don't have to call private companies now," said Pasco Rescue Chief Duncan Hitchcock.
As part of a mutual-aid agreement, the county wasn't charged a fee when it called the private company, but it was an inconvenience.
Besides providing safety for the patients, paramedics and emergency medical technicians, having bariatric stretchers in each ambulance speeds up calls by eliminating the need to wait around for a specialized ambulances to arrive from other jurisdictions.
"The sooner we can get the patient to the hospital, the sooner we can get back in service for the next call," Hitchcock said.
Pasco Fire Rescue started introducing the heavy-capacity stretchers to its fleet in 2002. The stretchers easily lifting up to 650 pounds and some accommodate as much as 1,000 pounds in their lowest position. The newer stretchers have wider bases, too.
"We started seeing more patients that were the bariatric type," Hitchcock said. "We just realized there was a need."
The bariatric-capacity stretchers cost between $1,000 and $1,500 more than regular stretchers, Hitchcock said, with the ones Pasco Fire Rescue is standardizing cost about $5,000 apiece. He said some have been paid for by grants.
Obesity was rarer
Hitchcock, who is a paramedic and a registered nurse, recalls working in St. Petersburg in the 1970s, and said that on the rare occasion they had obese patients, they had to place them on ambulance floors and prop them up with blankets and pillows.
"Years ago, we would pretty much use a tarp or salvage cover to pick them up and put them in the ambulance," hesaid.
In Pasco County, the need wasn't as great as in Hillsborough County. Hitchcock estimates that they used to call for private transport about 10 times a year. Now that all of the ambulances have the stretchers, they don't track bariatric calls, he said, but they seem to have increased.
"It seems to be more prevalent and instead of trying to make do with what you get, we're trying to make a concentrated effort that the patients are getting bigger so we've trying to get the stretchers that handle the weight," Hitchcock said. "Dignity issues are also something you consider."
Before the bariatric equipment, several paramedics, EMTs and firefighters would be called to the scene to help move the patient. Typical crews on bariatric units in most jurisdictions are three people rather than the standard two-person rescue-worker crew.
"You have to have more hands for the safety of the patients and the safety of the caregivers," Hitchcock said.
Rescue workers say the patients are the No. 1 concern, and paramedics say they like giving them back their dignity.
"We've actually had some patients who were like, 'Oh, please don't drop me.' And now they actually have more confidence in us," Crook said.
WATERLOO - Jim Lind doesn't want to make his customers wait. But sometimes they have little choice until one of Lind BP's tow trucks arrive.
After below zero weather settled into the area Wednesday following more than 10 inches of snow, drivers throughout the Cedar Valley found themselves stranded.
Tow truck driver Adam Gebel knows from working at Lind BP for more than six years that severe winter weather means long days.
"You expect a long shift," he said.
Drivers with dead batteries or stranded from the snowstorm knew they were in for a long wait for help.
"You've got to expect it with this weather," said Brent Leopold, who was unable to get his car going Thursday. Leopold said he didn't mind the wait and was glad to see Gebel.
Gebel was out along with Rob Mauer, pulling cars out of snowbanks and ditches and providing jump-starts in the frigid weather, in a 10-cylinder red truck that has racked up more than 309,000 miles of mostly in-town driving.
"The shop's been pretty hard on this truck," Mauer said.
The towing crews ran about a dozen calls behind for much of the day. Last year's record cold snap was worse with crews running about 60 to 70 calls behind, Gebel said.
Some calls were easy. Anne Cook's Volkswagen Jetta needed little more than a push to get out of a snow rut. Others cars, which went unmoved during a ban on towing, required some digging.
"There are some you have to dig through three, four feet of snow before you can get them out," Gebel said.
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Friday, December 11, 2009
Sheriff's deputies arrested a 16-year-old boy for following a postal carrier on a northwest Houston route and stealing mail left in boxes, specifically targeting Christmas cards containing cash.
Neighbors in the 3600 block of Cypresswood reported the suspicious teen. Wrecker driver Tracy Clark heard the radio call and subdued the boy before deputies handcuffed him.
Clark said the boy swung and hit him in the face during their struggle.
"I hit him, and he went down the ground," Clark said.
Authorities are trying to figure out how much he stole, which could determine whether he is charged with a misdemeanor or a felony.
For 15 years, Lester Shields followed a simple plan to build his business, Atlanta Cargo Transportation Co.: Do the job, and the customers will come.
It worked, too, as he grew his relocation firm to eight trucks and 15 employees with commercial and industrial clients.
Then, "The economy took a dip, and we took one right along with it." Suddenly, Shields had to learn some new tricks.
He picked up a few during a free six-month business education course offered through the U.S. Small Business Administration called the Emerging 200 Initiative, a two-year-old national program that seeks to identify and help 200 inner city firms in 10 communities considered to have strong growth potential. They had to be in business at least three years and have at least $400,000 in annual revenue.
Shields was one of 10 inner city Atlanta business owners selected to take the class this year. They graduate at a ceremony today.
Shields and his fellow students said they gained a better understanding of finances (many had simply left the details to their accountants). They developed long term business plans. And they got advice on how to go out and get customers, something Shields, for one, says he knew little about. He'd mostly relied on word-of-mouth referrals.
"It helped me identify some marketing tools I never really thought of," he said. "The blogs, the Facebooks, the Twitters … the social networking things. A lot of the information was invaluable."
SBA Georgia District Director Terri Denison said the program, "is really a way of systematically allowing business owners to look at their enterprise and figure out how to make that transition to the next level. Businesses have to be able to adapt as situations change. This (program) creates a space for them to take a longer term approach."
Those who took the course said it will help them.
Paula Henao, co-owner of H&G Construction Concepts, a general contracting firm that does residential and light commercial work, said she learned "to get closer to the customer, to understand their needs."
That means, for example, being aware that small remodeling jobs are more likely now than expensive projects, she said.
She also began to create a database of customers and developed a three-year growth plan.
Llewellyn Bryant said he learned something as well, even though he's been in business for 35 years. But his Bryant Auto & Towing Service is being converted from a repair and towing operation to a salvage shop, and he knew he needed some help, especially finding business.
Bryant said much of his old customer base moved out of his northwest Atlanta neighborhood and now he has to find new customers.
"That was the biggest thing," he said. "I've got to reach out to the touch the community."
Bryant and others said the course didn't solve another problem they face, however: finding capital to build their inventory and grow their businesses.
Dietris Barnes, founder and president of Enrichment Bookstore Inc., a 13-year-old online book retailer, noted that many of those who took the course had been rejected by lenders.
"We'd like," she said, "to find some ‘yeses.'"
Denison said, "There probably was a little more discussion (this time) about how to best leverage financial resources in this environment … how to keep the operation going when maybe you're not able to get as much financing as a couple of years ago."
But, she said that by taking the course in such tough times, the 10 business owners showed something.
"It's really a testament to their stick-to-it-iveness," she said. "There's opportunity ahead, and they want to be prepared for it."
Thursday, December 10, 2009
A Cross Lanes woman charged with leaving the scene of an accident causing death pleaded not guilty in Kanawha Circuit Court on Wednesday.
Jenea Sherman, 32, was indicted on the felony charge by a Kanawha grand jury and also on a misdemeanor charge of driving on a revoked license in a hit-and-run accident July 15 that killed a St. Albans pedestrian.
She pleaded not guilty to both charges before Judge James O. Holliday and is scheduled to go on trial on March 15.
Sherman posted a $150,000 property bond and had been ordered held on home confinement, but in early November she was taken to South Central Regional Jail after she violated the terms of home confinement. Her attorney has requested a hearing on that violation in hopes of having her released.
The Kanawha County Sheriff's Department arrested Sherman after a month-long investigation into the death of Mary "Red" McCallister, 50. Her body was found in a ditch along U.S. 35 two days after she was struck.
Deputies discovered Sherman's rollback-style wrecker truck at a Wiseman Drive home in St. Albans. They said the homeowner told them Sherman had asked him to hide the vehicle there because she feared she had hit a child.
A hero tow truck driver helped bust a crew of car thieves this week when he followed a stolen vehicle across two boroughs and pointed the suspects out to police.
Cops said the bandits may be responsible for as many as eight other car heists, cops said.
Vinnie Lanzieri, 44, was driving his Performance Automotive tow truck in Queens about midnight Wednesday when he heard on his police scanner that a 38-year-old man had been held up at gunpoint and pulled out of his 2008 Cadillac Escalade in Rego Park, he said.
"We were facing each other," Lanzieri said. "The light changed and I pulled a U-turn and followed them."
The stolen vehicle made a dash to the Jackie Robinson Parkway with a Blazer following close behind, Lanzieri said.
"They were flying down it," Lanzieri said, adding that the thugs soon dumped the stolen SUV on a dead-end street off Pennsylvania Ave. in East New York, Brooklyn, and began to flee in the second vehicle. Lanzieri saw a marked squad car from Transit District 33 nearby and flagged down the officers, he said.
"I told them what happened," Lanzieri said. "The two cops took them out at gunpoint and had them on the floor in 30 seconds."
Michael McDermott, 21; Carnell Fugitt, 22, and Akeem Forrest, 20, all of Brooklyn, were arrested and charged with robbery, cops said. McDermott was also charged with possession of a weapon, cops said.
Police believe the three may be involved in five similar thefts.
TALLMADGE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) - Two tow-truck drivers at Marz Collision Services were still in the building after their shift when a man broke into the shop Friday evening.
The owner of the collision shop and towing company, located at O-199 Lake Michigan Drive in Tallmadge Township, says the two employees were relaxing after their shift when they heard a loud noise and realized that someone was in the building at around 8 p.m.
After the employees noticed the man, he ran away. While calling police, the tow-truck drivers followed the suspect in one of the company trucks.
Walker police officers caught up with the man and arrested him near 1st Avenue and Lake Michigan Drive.
Investigators say the suspect is a 45-year-old man from Grand Rapids who is on parole. He will be charged with burglary and possession of burglary tools. He is currently being held at the Ottawa County Jail.
The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department has not released the suspect's name because he has not been formally charged.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
An Army veteran said he received his Christmas gift early when a tow truck driver from Nutcracker Towing came to his aid Friday after he was stuck in the snow on Mount Graham for two days.
Dan Olaughlin, 59, of Douglas is a disabled, terminal veteran who is living out his last days enjoying himself by camping throughout Arizona with his two dogs. He drives around in a 2008 Chevy Silverado with a camper attached on the bed but never strays too far from a Veterans Administration hospital.
He told the Courier he wanted to camp in some snow because it reminds him of Wisconsin, where he grew up. He headed up to Mount Graham on Dec. 2.When he reached his destination, he suddenly realized he had become stuck in about 6 inches of hard-packed snow. For the next two days, he attempted to shovel and free his vehicle, to no avail. Finally, he called the Graham County Sheriff's Office dispatch.
The dispatch operator called Nutcracker Towing of Pima, which then sent a truck to free the vet.
After arriving at about noon, co-owner and driver Nelson Rhinehart said Olaughlin said he didn't have money and wouldn't be able to pay him. Rhinehart freed Olaughlin's truck and gave him a receipt from Nutcracker without charging him anything. Rhinehart then followed Olaughlin and made sure he made it off the mountain without any more problems.
"I can't praise the guy enough," Olaughlin said. "He said 'Merry Christmas' and didn't charge me anything."
The normal cost to perform the service would have been about $200.
The vehicle body repair and tow truck industries have called off a planned protest march to Absa's head office tomorrow after reaching agreement on a number of issues related to the banking group's short-term insurance arm.
Aleeshen Kisten, the national director of the SA Motor Body Repairers Association (Sambra), on Friday said it had reached agreement with Absa on Wednesday to resolve the dispute and had subsequently received a memorandum of understanding from Absa's attorneys, which it was reviewing.
Andre van der Merwe, the chairman of the SA Towing and Recovery Association (Satra), said it had received a draft document from Absa's attorneys but "quite a lot was lost in translation" from what had been agreed at the meeting.
Van der Merwe said Satra had called off a planned protest march but the draft was not in the spirit of what was agreed.
Attempts to obtain comment from Absa were unsuccessful.
Kisten said Absa had planned to introduce a close vehicle repair network panel with many quality repairers excluded as the last hurdle in the selection process was based only on price.
He said it was agreed that the customer's right of choice would prevail and if a customer wanted to use a specific repairer, there would not be any inducement from Absa that repairers on its panel be used and it would not use disclaimers if that repairer was not on the list.
Kisten said the agreement addressed most of Sambra's issues with Absa, adding that it was wrong of Absa to only deal with a select group of repairers and give them volumes.
A local Sioux Falls business owner was stunned when he opened what he thought was a normal energy bill that turned out to be over $7500. It was for a back charge on a faulty meter reading, but he is fighting these charges.
Mark Pyle owns A Plus Towing in Sioux Falls, and he recently received a bill from Mid American Energy for over $7500, many times more than what he was expecting.
He said, "Well you just laugh cause you think it's a misprint."
It wasn't a misprint, for that is what Mid American was charging Mark. In September an arson fire destroyed his business. After rebuilding, he turned on the heat to the building so that contractors could have heat, but his business didn't need another high-cost hit
Mark said, "It's just like kick you when you're down, in a way. I mean the only reason they found that there was a meter issue was because of the fire. I mean to me the equipment that failed is their equipment, not mine."
Mark has talked to the Public Utilities Commision who told Action News that this is still an open case and that there is some discomfort for what Mid-American is doing.
Mid-American also spoke with Action News, saying that they are aware of the situation and are working with the PUC and Mark to get this case resolved.
Northwestern Energy told Action News that if you think there's an issue with your meter reading you should have it checked, which is free of charge.