Friday, May 28, 2010

The June Digital Edition of Footnotes Is Out!

Just click to read!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

URT/ Las Vegas Goodbuy Auto Auction New Online Registration Starts

New online, live auction bidding at Goodbuy Auto Auction!

QCSA Acquires Salvage Direct

QCSA Holdings, Inc., a Vehicle Remarketing and Total Loss Claims Management company announced it has purchased and will be uniting forces with Salvage Direct, a salvage re-marketing firms.

Farewell, Friend

Farewell, Friend. Our condolences to the family and acquaintances of 53-year-old William D. "Bill" Atkinson, who passed away on Monday, May 24. Bill and his brother, Garnett Jr., owned and operated Atkinson Towing, a family business in VA, for more than three generations. Here's his obituary from

William D. "Bill" Atkinson, born August 16, 1957, left this life on Monday, May 24, 2010.

Bill and his brother, Garnett Jr., owned and operated Atkinson Towing, a family business, for more than three generations. They had built the business up from a heavy-duty truck repair garage, to include towing, repossession operation, and U-Haul rentals, to needing to add an office manager, Michelle.

Bill loved drag racing and mud bogging. He and "the guys" just finished building a sand drag rail. He referred to Chris, who drives his orange mud truck that holds first place in several classes, as "that's my boy."

Bill also loved camping and spending time with his grandchildren.

He leaves behind his wife of 34 years, Linda M. Atkinson; three children, Steven D., Michelle L. and Chris Atkinson and his companion, Jennifer Brown; a daughter-in-law, Amy Atkinson; eight grandchildren, Alex, Christopher, Messiah, Tristan, Lamont, Halley, Jacob and Zackary; his mother, Jean Curtis; his brother, Garnett L. Atkinson Jr.; a niece, Gini Atkinson; a great-niece, Cadence Pomeroy; two great-nephews, Austin Atkinson and James G. Pomeroy; and many friends.

He was preceded in death by his father, Garnett L. Atkinson.

A memorial gathering will be held at noon Saturday, May 29, at Atkinson Towing, 5205 Jefferson Davis Highway, Fredericksburg, Va. 22408.

The family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, May 28, at Covenant Funeral Service, Fredericksburg.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the SPCA, 10819 Courthouse Road, Fredericksburg, Va. 22408.

Bill, we miss you. Rest in peace.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

TN Repo Man Is Run Over

Here's the story from News Channel 9:

When the repo man shows up at one woman's house Monday afternoon, she says, not so fast. Police say Tia Thomas intentionally hit the gas instead of the brakes, and the man repossessing her car, wound up underneath it.

Mike Phillips of Tow Co Recovery says he's had dealings with Thomas several times before. He called for back up and his father Gary responded.

As they were loading the Chevy Tahoe onto their repo truck, Thomas came to stop them. Thomas hopped into the truck, while it was several feet off the ground, and began trying to drive it off the lift.

Phillips showed us where they struggled over the steering wheel, and eventually, Thomas won out and took off. Phillips' father went after her on Tunnel Boulevard, and cornered her not far away. But when he tried to get her to handover the keys, police say Thomas ran him over. Mike Phillips watched his father get thrown onto the windshield and land on the ground.

Phillips went to the hospital with a concussion and broken ribs. His son spend most of the evening trying to track Tia Thomas down, and late Monday night he found her truck. Police arrested and charged Thomas with aggravated assault.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

GA Tower, Father Of Five, Killed At Stop Light

Sad, sad news. Our condolences to the family and acquaintances of 41-year-old Anthony Scott Carter, who worked for South DeKalb Towing. Here's the story from
DeKalb Police arrested two people in connection with the Saturday shooting death of a man waiting at a red light, Channel 2 Action News reporter Tony Thomas learned.Police believe the father of five, who was shot while waiting at a red light, knew his attackers.The shooting happened around 3 a.m. Saturday near the intersection of Panola Road and Covington Highway, DeKalb County police officials said. Police said Anthony Scott Carter, 41, had just left his Avondale High School reunion. He died from the injury.Family members described the father of five as a hard worker and a family man who didn't deserve to die."It's hard right now because I don't even understand how someone could do him like that," said Jessica Weaver, Carter's sister.Police said the victim’s vehicle was stopped at a red light when another vehicle pulled up and fired one shot, striking the victim in the upper torso area.Investigators said the victim managed to drive to a nearby Shell gas station.He was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital where he later died.Thomas also spoke with the victim's boss at South DeKalb Towing where he was said to be the best driver they had."He's a problem solver, never creates a problem, he's a great guy, just hard to see and hear that this has happened," said Walter Jackson.One suspect was identified as Menshack Nyepah. He made his first court appearance Sunday night. The other suspect's name has not been released.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Nice Profile on WA's Towing Hall of Famer Gordon Simmons

Here's the story from the South Whidbey Record:

He’s towed everything from Beetles to bulldozers, school buses to fire trucks, but one job alone would probably put Gordon Simmons of Clinton in the tow-truck hall of fame.

The horse in the septic tank.

“That was something else,” Simmons said this week of the incident about 10 years ago down by Cultus Bay. “It was an old tank with a wooden cover. The horse walked across it and fell through. The stuff was clear over his back.”

Simmons hooked the horse to his tow truck and gently lifted the odorous animal out of the tank without injury.

“We put him down in a hurry,” Simmons chuckled. “That horse started eating the minute we got him out of there.”

Simmons, 79, a South Whidbey native like his father before him, was reflecting on the 63-year career in the towing business that has earned him a place in the coveted International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame.

He’s one of only eight towing operators nationwide who will join the elite cadre this year at an induction ceremony Sept. 18 at the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Simmons was nominated for the honor by the travelers’ assistance group AAA, with which he has been associated for more than 60 years.

“How I ever got to get one of those spots, I’ll never know,” he said. “I guess AAA likes me.”

Since 1986, the towing organization has been honoring a small group of operators each year who have contributed to the image and success of the industry.

Simmons joins two operators from North Carolina, and one each from Florida, California, Idaho, Louisiana and Pennsylvania in the Class of 2010.

“This year’s inductees share a dedication to their state and local towing organizations as well as the national towing and recovery community,” said Rolfe Johnson, president of the hall of fame and museum.

“They share common strengths which have led to their nomination,” he said.

The International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame & Museum opened in 1995.

Chattanooga was chosen because the Ernest Holmes Co. built the first wreckers there in the early 1900s.

The museum features 18 antique tow trucks and other industry memorabilia, along with a special wing with photographs on the wall of all the inductees.

Simmons and the other new hall-of-famers will be honored throughout the September weekend. At the induction ceremony on Saturday night, they will be dressed alike in black slacks and blue jackets.

“And we’ll all be wearing yellow ties,” Simmons said. “It’s going to be quite a deal.”

Simmons and his brother Mel opened their vehicle repair garage in 1947, at its current location along Highway 525 at Humphrey Road, on the hill above the Clinton Ferry Terminal.

They soon added their first tow truck, a 1.5-ton Chevrolet with a hand winch on the back.

“When a car went into a ditch, we had a heck of a time getting it out with that,” Simmons said.

Simmons now has nine tow trucks, most of them parked in front of his house a short distance down Humphrey Road from the repair shop. The hand winches are long gone.

“My tow trucks are kind of a hobby,” Simmons said. “My wife says I never want to get rid of them because I love them so much.”

The Simmons brothers ran the business for years, until Mel sold his share to Gordon. Mel Simmons died recently.

Simmons and his six employees currently operate the business — actually two businesses. Simmons also owns AA Towing across the street from the garage.

Simmons’ son-in-law, Gary Peterson, is now his “Number 2,” and has taken over most of the middle-of-the-night calls, although Simmons himself still responds off-hours from time to time.

Simmons’ wife, Shirley, helps out with the phones, day or night.

Simmons said that through the years, almost every one of his customers has been pleasant to deal with, despite their distress.

“Once in a while, you get some ornery ones,” he said.

Besides the horse in the septic tank, he has assisted other animals that have gone down holes or become stuck in the mud.

“There have been some cows, but mostly it’s horses that get themselves in trouble,” he said.

The hall-of-fame nomination isn’t his first honor. This past year, he was named one of the Record’s Hometown Heroes for his contributions to his neighbors and his community.

Despite his age, Simmons plans to keep on doing what he’s doing, climbing in one of his trucks and rumbling to the aid of someone or something in trouble.

“It’s been a good business,” he said. “This is a bad time to try to sell, so I’m going to be here for a while longer. I hope.”

Everyday TX Tow Hero

Kudos to this unnamed tow truck driver who kept a drunk driver from killing someone else. Our condolences to the family and acquaintances of the pedestrian who was killed. Here's the story from the Houston Chronicle:

A pedestrian was killed after he was hit by a suspected drunken driver while crossing a north central Houston street early Sunday, authorities said.

Witnesses told police the man was crossing the street near Feagan and Durham around 6 p.m. when the driver of a white Dodge pickup traveling south on Durham hit the pedestrian, killing him, said Houston Police Department Vehicular Crimes Division Sgt. Steve Law. His identity is pending an autopsy.

The driver of the truck kept going before pulling over in the 400 block of Shepherd, where he was stopped by a wrecker driver who detained him until officers arrived.

Law said the driver, whose identity was not released, showed signs of intoxication at the scene and is expected to be charged with intoxication manslaughter.

No further information was immediately available and the case is still under investigation.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tower's Hero

In late April, NY State Trooper Roy Ciancanelli was working an accident scene in Wappingers Falls with 70-year-old tow truck driver Vincent Paino. As the trooper was preparing to leave the scene, he noticed that Paino had collapsed.
According to the Poughkeepsie Journal story, “Ciancanelli called for emergency medical service and began cardio-pulmonary resuscitation on the unconscious Paino until the ambulance crew arrived. Paino was taken to the intensive care unit at St. Luke's Cornwall Hospital, Newburgh.”

And The Winner Is...

Dan Messina (left), STO Executive Board President, and Jess Horton (right), STO Executive Director, present the keys to the 2010 Ford Transit Connect to Michael Brashear (center), of M&D Towing, on
May 5, 2010.

Michael Brashear, of M & D Towing of Dallas, TX, was the winner of the 2010 Ford Transit Connect service vehicle raffled off during the 2010 Tow Expo International in Houston, TX, on May 1. Brashear had purchased the ticket online through the Southwest Tow Operators website. All proceeds benefited the "In the Line of Duty" Benevolent Fund sponsored by the Southwest Tow Operators and the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum Survivor Fund. In the past year, STO has issued more than eight checks to families of fallen towers across Texas.

Nova Scotia Man Awarded Over $92,000 From Towing Company For Injuries

Here's the story from the Chronicle Herald:

BRIDGEWATER — A Lunenburg County man who suffered permanent damage after his face and upper body were squashed between two garbage trucks has been awarded more than $92,000 in damages.

In a decision released Wednesday, Justice Peter Bryson said, "Carl Mawdsley is fortunate to be alive."

He said Mawdsley, a slight man who stands just five-foot-four and weighs 135 pounds, was climbing into the cab of a truck when his head was crushed between its door and the truck beside it.

Though the incident was "mercifully brief," Bryson said Mawdsley still suffers some ill effects today, nearly nine years after the accident.

Mawdsley, who lives in Upper Chelsea, sued McCarthy’s Towing & Recovery Ltd. and driver Byron McCarthy for damages after he became caught between the two garbage trucks, one of which McCarthy was in the process of towing away.

The incident happened Sept. 10, 2001. Mawdsley was picking up cardboard for recycling from a Lunenburg grocery store when his rear-loading garbage truck stalled. His employer, G.E. All Trucking Ltd. sent a replacement truck, which was parked besides Mawdsley’s stalled truck.

Byron McCarthy arrived to tow Mawdsley’s truck. He testified he checked his mirrors and didn’t see anyone between the trucks, but Mawdsley was between them and as the tow truck began pulling the stalled vehicle, Mawdsley’s head and torso were trapped between the two trucks.

A co-worker saw what was happening, yelled and McCarthy stopped the tow truck within seconds.

Mawdsley was taken to hospital in Lunenburg then flown by helicopter to Halifax where he spent 11 days in hospital. Among his injuries, he suffered a broken right lower jaw, a severed facial nerve that left him without feeling on the right side of his face, a puncture wound to his chest, two broken ribs and nerve damage to his left forearm.

He has had two jaw surgeries but his face is still asymmetrical. He has lost some sensitivity in his left arm, suffered mild brain trauma and is self-conscious about the scar that runs across the right side of his face. Mawdsley said he suffers pain, discomfort and fatigue when he does much physical work and while he can do most of the things he did before the accident, he said they take a lot longer.Bryson calculated total damages, taking into account lost earnings and diminished earning capacity, at $231,059.62. But he reduced the award to $92,423.85 because he ruled that Mawdsley was 60 per cent liable for the incident because he should have been aware, as he began walking between the two trucks, that the towed truck was being moved.

If he did not notice it moving he should have because "the distinctive hiss of the air brakes releasing would have been an ominous sign of impending movement by the tow truck," the judge said.

He said McCarthy was 40 per cent liable for the accident because he failed to continue checking his mirrors.

""If he had done so, he likely would have seen Mr. Mawdsley make his ill-advised move," Bryson said.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Farewell, Friend

Our condolences to the family and acquaintances of Colie Wilson, Jr., the co-founder of S&W Towing Services of GA. Wilson, 67, died on Monday, 5/17. Here's his obituary from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
As a young man, Colie Wilson Jr. spent many a day at local racetracks behind the wheel of his Ford truck or some roadster.

As a grandpa years later, he bought his 6-year-old grandson, Shane Sieg of Tucker, a go-kart to race. The youngster took to it and competed in a go-kart division that took him to events in Carnesville, Myrtle Beach and elsewhere. He won several divisional championships in races sanctioned by the World Karting Association.

Wherever he competed, grandma, grandpa and other relatives were in the stands cheering.

"He was very proud," said Joan Wilson, referring to her husband of 48 years. "We were at every single race. Even when {Mr. Wilson} was ill, we'd load him up and take him."

In the late 1990s, Mr. Wilson had heart surgery and in recent years had suffered two strokes. He also had vascular dementia, the second most common form of dementia behind Alzheimer's disease.

On Monday, Colie Wilson Jr. of Decatur died from complications of various illnesses at Odyssey House Hospice. He was 67. The funeral will be at 2 p.m. today at Rehoboth Baptist Church in Tucker. A.S. Turner & Sons is in charge of arrangements.

Mr. Wilson was born in the Pearidge community of Decatur. He attended Rehoboth Elementary and was graduated from Clarkston High. After various jobs in construction and other fields, he and his son-in-law Rod Sieg founded S&W Towing Services, a business that has operated since 1982 and has locations in Tucker and Atlanta.

Besides racing in his younger days, Mr. Wilson liked to hunt and restore old cars. He had been tinkering with a 1968 Roadrunner that he didn't get to complete. His son, Tony Wilson of McDonough finished restoration of the canary roadster earlier this year.

Mr. Wilson loved spending time with his family and cherished the fact that he had the opportunity to race and see his grandsons follow in his footsteps.

That would be brothers Shane Sieg, 27, and Ryan Sieg, 23, both of Tucker. Today, they make up Sieg Racing and compete in NASCAR's Camping World Truck Series.

On May 14, they competed in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Dover 200 in Delaware. Ryan started in 21st place and finished 9th; Shane started 27th place and finished in 33rd, according to

Regardless of how they fared, Mr. Wilson would have been proud, his son said.

"When you look at pictures of him at the racetrack with them taken over the years, you can see the pride," he said.

Additional survivors include two daughters, Susan Bates and Pam Sieg, both of Decatur; four sisters, Sarah Pumo of Clarkston; Jeannette Martin of Snellville; Chee Chee Shulenberger of Decatur and Mary Godwin of Cumming; a brother, Henry H. Wilsonof Decatur; and six grandchildren.

Towing's Not His Only Game

Congrats to 31-year-old Zachary King, owner and operator of King's Wrecker Service in Clarksville, AK, who was fishing his way to the top during the BASS Federation: 2010 Central Divisional tournament! Here's the ESPN story:

Kimberling City, MO—It is no wonder why Zachary King considers Table Rock one of his favorite lakes in the country.

For the second straight day, King weighed in a 14-pound-plus limit (14-14) to take the lead in the BASS Federation Nation Central Divisional with 29 pounds, 3 ounces. The 31-year-old owner and operator of King's Wrecker Service in Clarksville, Ark., lives about 2 1/2 hours from Table Rock and usually fishes the lake two to three times a year. "I don't fish here a lot," said King. "I don't just come up here and play fish. Every time I come up here to fish it is for a tournament. This is one of my favorite lakes in the country because it is my style of fishing. I fish really fast and that is how you catch them here."

Competing in his ninth divisional, King has done a lot of running and gunning the last two days. "I'm fishing pretty close but I am probably running 60 miles a day," said King.

The Cabin Creek Bassmasters club member has made some adjustments this week to stay on his fish. "I was catching some fish moving slow baits and then I changed up the last day of practice," he said. "I am fishing some moving baits now but today I had to mix it up a little bit. I caught some moving slow baits and then some working hard baits."

Two competitions are rolled up into one tournament as the divisional contestants vie for individual and team honors. Twelve-man teams from eight states are battling for the top prize of the tournament, a Skeeter bass boat/Yamaha outboard rig worth $40,000. Oklahoma is still the leading team with an accumulative weight of 176 pounds, 7 ounces while Arkansas holds second with 158-9.

The Central Divisional anglers also have a shot at qualifying for the BASS Federation Nation Championship since each team's top finisher earns a berth to the ultimate event for amateur bass anglers. King's state teammates have to overtake the tournament leader to qualify for the championship. Other state leaders are Travis Tunnell (Kansas), Jaime Laiche (Louisiana), Randy Ladner (Mississippi), Greg Cooper (Missouri), Kenny Wasmund (Nebraska), Kyle Tudor (Oklahoma) and Tom Jessop (Texas).

Tomorrow's final weigh-in will determine the winners in the individual and team competitions and the Junior Bassmasters Central Divisional. The weigh-in begins at 2 p.m. CDST at Ahoy's at Kimberling Inn.

Close Call in NC

Christian Rufus of NC's Quality Towing was nearly killed on Monday while working to retrieve a vehicle on the side of the road. A driver lost control of his truck, which slammed into Rufus and two others. Sadly, one of man was killed. Rufus was injured and taken to a hospital. He is now recovering at home. Here's the FOX News Story:

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - The staff at Quality Towing can't get Monday morning's fatal crash at the Interstate 40/U.S. 311 interchange out of their heads.

One of Quality Towing's drivers, Christian Rufus, was about to pull a car and truck out of the mud on the side of the ramp when a truck lost control and slid into Rufus and two others. One man died at the scene, and emergency workers took Rufus and another man to area hospitals.

"Worse wreck I've ever been on. I've been towing seven years. It was pretty bad," said Chris Grubbs, a fellow tow truck driver who rushed to the scene when he heard about the accident.

"He is my best friend, more than a co-worker. We grew up together. We went to high school together," he said. "I was shook up at first. I didn't know the situation, but I am glad he is alright and sorry for the other folks that lost."

Grubbs said Rufus is now resting at home.

"I had another accident call an hour later. That other scene flashed in my head and probably will from now on," he said.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

State Farm Attempting To Regulate Consensual Towing, According to TRAA

Here's a portion of the release from TRAA President Alan Gregg (click here to go to the full PDF file at the TRAA website):
It has been brought to our attention that State Farm Insurance is attempting to introduce Federal legislation that would regulate "consensual" towing.
In the Federal Aviation Act of 1994 in Section 601, Congress inadvertently preempted the ability of local governments to regulate the tow truck industry.
[The ICC Termination Act of 1995, Public Law 104-88] restored the local authority to engage in regulating the prices charged by tow trucks in nonconsensual towing situations, but regulation of routes and services, as well as regulation of consensual towing were still preempted.

If State Farm's legislation is successful, and "political subdivisions" are allowed to regulate consent towing it would be really detrimental to our industry. In my opinion TRAA should stand firmly behind the law as it is written supporting regulation of nonconsensual towing and leaving consent towing out of the restriction. From talking with people in Illinois who have experienced the State Farm legislation directly, it sounds as if this is more a consumer protection attempt even though they have used "safety" in the writing to get it passed.

While we are trying to find a contact and/or get a copy of the proposed legislation, we have not been successful as yet. I think it is important that we share what we know so as to alert the industry to be vigilant, and if and when a bill becomes a reality TRAA should take the lead in making it known that we are absolutely opposed to any attempt to regulate consensual towing.

Any thoughts or suggestions you may have will be appreciated.

Matheny Motors Expands Commercial Truck Sales Dept.

Here's the release:
Major. Michael Rauh (US Army retired) joins the Matheny Motors Commercial Sales Department Specializing in Miller Industries Towing and Recovery Equipment.

Since becoming a Miller Industries Full-Line Distributor, Matheny Motors has expanded its sales territory to include Ohio, West Virginia and Northern Virginia. Matheny Motors has added Major Rauh to cover its primary customer base in Ohio and West Virginia.

Major Rauh recently retired from the Army Reserve after 21 years of full-time active duty service. Originally from Ravenswood, WV, Rauh graduated in 1995 from Fairmont State University with a degree in business administration.

“We are proud to hire Major Rauh,” said Tim Matheny, President, “He is a true patriot with four
company commands including deployments to Operation Desert Storm/Shield in Iraq, a tour in
Kosovo, and Operation Freedom in Iraq.” Matheny adds, “In addition to Mike, we have several
employees who are either veterans or serve in the National Guard or Reserves.”

Major Rauh lives in Vienna, WV with his wife, Catherine and their three daughters.

FL Tower Killed

Our condolences to the family and acquaintances of 58-year-old Nelson Hernandez, who was killed on May 11 after being struck by a van on the side of the road. Here's the story from WSVN-TV:

WEST MIAMI-DADE, Fla. -- Family members gathered at the scene where a tow truck driver was struck and killed while on the job.

According to police, 58-year-old Nelson Hernandez was getting out of his tow truck to help a motorist when he was struck and killed by a white van on Sunday, just after 11 p.m.

The accident happened in the southbound lanes of the Palmetto Expressway near the Flagler Street exit.

Hernandez's son said he wants more federal guidelines and laws to be enforced. "We don't need another tragedy. These highways cost too many lives each year," said Lazaro Hernandez.

Authorities said the driver, who allegedly struck the victim, initially drove away after the accident but later returned.

Two years ago, tow truck driver Vincent Torres died on the Don Shula Expressway. In Tennessee, the Wall of the Fallen was built four years ago to honor those drivers who were killed on duty.

Truck driver Paul Verones has witnessed danger firsthand. "People drift over, and I've caught them early, and I'm watching and watching, and they're drifting and drifting. Then, they come right up on you," said Verones.

Ramon Crego has 14 trucks and 17 drivers under his care and makes safety his top priority. "We are standing on traffic where people are going 70 miles an hour. You guys need to slow down and pay attention to those lights," said Crego.

According to the Tow Truck Association of America, an on-duty operator is killed, on average, every six days, and more than sixty operators die each year. "I'm pretty sure he's looking at me saying, 'I rather it to happen to me than to you guys,'" said Lazaro Hernandez.

CA Tow Truck Company Goes "Green"

Here's the story from the Whittier Daily News:
Like other service shops around the nation, Jan Qualkenbush's towing business suffered a blow during the recession, bringing his profits down at least 15 percent and causing him to reduce his fleet of tow trucks from nearly 50 to 35.

But despite the financial hardships, Qualkenbush has gotten a jump start on making his diesel tow trucks compliant with costly state and federal environmental regulations that go into effect starting next year.

The president of Jan's Towing Inc., which covers much of the San Gabriel Valley, said the company has spent at least $2.5 million so far in purchasing "green" tow trucks for his Azusa and Glendora shops, and at least 75 percent of the fleet has been converted to more environmentally-friendly vehicles.

"Being in business in general with the recession, trying to stay compliant, and trying to do the right thing is very hard these days," said Qualkenbush. "I'm not going to sacrifice safety or polluting the environment. I want to do the right thing."

Although the regulations won't start until 2011, Qualkenbush has taken a more aggressive approach than others in the industry regarding compliance, said Mark Baatz, owner of the Los Angeles-based Tow Industries, which builds and distributes towing equipment to Qualkenbush and other companies in the region.

"He's been very proactive in making sure that his trucks conform to the most recent emission codes so that he never has the issue of having to take his trucks off the road because they don't comply anymore," Baatz said. "He's replacing trucks that aren't going to be made obsolete for another three or four years."

The state's regulations are intended to ensure that all regions in the state meet federal air quality standards, and to reduce exposure to harmful soot, said Tony Brasil, chief of the heavy duty diesel implementation branch of the California Air Resources Board.

"Reducing pollution is going to reduce premature deaths" largely associated with soot emissions, he said.

The new regulations are going to have a financial impact on all diesel tow truck and bus companies, but could hit smaller businesses particularly hard because they tend to run older diesel trucks, Baatz said.

Alfonso Castaneda, owner of Acasta Towing in Pasadena, admitted he was concerned about the costs to upgrade his vehicles. However, he said he hopes to start replacing his three diesel tow trucks as soon as he has the budget.

"I'm all for it," he said. "I think it's great in the green, positive way ... There are companies that are working unprofessionally with their equipment and trucks with things not up to date - that hurts the person doing everything by the book."

The new regulations - which were announced in 2008 and will only apply to diesel trucks and buses over 14,000 pounds - are still being modified, and deadlines will be extended to give companies more time to comply, Brasil said.

The changes will be implemented in stages. By early 2011, fleets must have exhaust filters installed in at least 25 percent of their vehicles. Companies will have to continue the process until their entire fleets are converted by 2014.

Despite the extra costs, Qualkenbush says he believes the changes he's making will ultimately pay off.

"You feel like you've done something positive for the environment," he said. "If they want to call me a tree hugger, they can call me a tree hugger. I don't care."

Dallas Towing Company Protects Its Drivers

Here's the story from
When you're stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire and see the lights of the tow truck, you feel relief. But when you're parked illegally and see those same lights, the reaction is much different. Some people become violent, and the tow truck drivers are the targets.

But now, one tow truck company is vowing to fight back.

Matt Julius has seen the heat of battle. He's been a tow truck driver for ten years and has the scars to prove it. There's a long scar on the left side of his face. He said he got it the day an angry car owner hit him with a Margarita glass. An emergency room doctor closed the wound with 57 stitches. Julius has also been shot. The wound to his side was minor, he said. "Every now and then, we have those reality checks where people come out with guns," Julius said.

But now, his tow truck company can capture everything that happens. Julius works for South West Auto Tow, also known as SWAT. The Dallas company invested in a $50,000 surveillance system from GeoVision and equipped nine of their tow trucks with four cameras each.

The company's manager, Jerry Splawn Junior, can watch his tow truck drivers live on the internet or download the video to his hard drive. Splawn is 28. He was once SWAT's top driver, pulling in a six figure salary. His father is a driver for the same company.

On this day, Splawn is reviewing video captured from Julius' tow truck . Splawn said, "This guy here. He's running to find the resident. He's got a shotgun in his right hand." Julius can be heard telling the gunman he was only doing his job. Splawn explains that whenever a resident comes out to claim their vehicle, the tow truck driver puts down the vehicle and leaves. Julius said his life isn't worth the 25 to 35 dollars he could get for towing away a car.

"It's crazy what people will do to stop us from towing the vehicle," Julius said. That can be seen in another video where a woman tried to block one of SWAT's tow trucks from leaving an apartment complex. She stood in front of the tow truck with her a baby in her hands.

In another video, a car pulls alongside a SWAT tow truck already cruising down the road with a vehicle in tow. The tow truck driver is Splawn's dad. The car is trying to keep pace with the tow truck. A woman in the car's passenger seat screams at Splawn's dad. Splawn explains that the manager of a grocery store called their company, asking them to remove the woman's vehicle because she had parked it with a "4 Sale" on his property. The woman claimed she had gone into the store to shop for groceries. She's waving what she says is her receipt. Splawn's dad tells the woman to have the store manager call them. The driver of her vehicle then pulls in front of the tow truck to try and stop it. But the tow truck loses them on the next turn.

The most dangerous part of the job, Julius said, is when drivers must tow vehicles in a dangerous part of town. "The car could be loaded with guns or loaded with drugs. They'll try to take our life to protect their stuff," he said. Splawn said they can and do turn over their video to the police department now. The video also protects the company from unjustified claims. "It shows a driver didn't break in and steal a sticker. It shows damages. It shows we didn't cause it or did. Now we have proof." Splawn said.

Splawn would've liked tow truck video from June 26th 2007, when he was shot five times. Splawn said, "He hit me twice in the back, in the neck, leg and stomach." He drove himself to the hospital. "Last thing I remember, my dad leaning over me and praying for me. Then I woke up about three weeks later," Splawn said. His wife Twila said, "Well, you know God has him here for a reason."

Splawn's nerves were shot after that but he went back to towing cars for the company. Then, in October of 2009, someone else pulled a gun on him. That's when Twila had a talk with the owner of the company, Dan Messina. She wanted Splawn off the streets. So, Messina created a new job for Splawn managing the tow truck drivers. But even that didn't keep him from having to dodge bullets. Splawn says just last year, someone sprayed the front of South West Auto Tow's building with bullets. There were holes in several rooms. No one was hurt, though it rattled Splawn again. Splawn was a bomb loader in the Air Force in 1999. He said that job was a lot safer than this one. He and some of the other tow truck drivers have taken to wearing bullet proof vests when they're on the job now.

Though towing illegaly parked cars will always be a dangerous job, drivers at SWAT know someone will always be watching over them now. Julius said, "It's Big Brother watching over us at all times." South West Auto Tow says their company is one of only two tow truck companies in the United States with video surveillance equipment on their trucks. SWAT can thank Jerry Splawn for that. After his nearly-fatal shooting, he pushed for it.

Positive Profile Of MN Tower

Here's the story from the Albert Lea Tribune:

A local business owner has a special story about the name of his business that no one would ever be able to guess by looking at the name.

Bob Ackland owns Big Toe & Little Toe Excavating & Towing at 625 W. Main St. in Albert Lea. He said he thought of that name because I-90 and I-35 that he works on while towing are so dangerous.

“I’m the Little Toe and the Lord is the Big Toe because he’s out there protecting me,” Ackland said.

Ackland works with his sons Mike and John doing many different kinds of work. They are able to work on septic systems, foundations and do demolition as well as towing and excavating. Ackland says he’s completely licensed and bonded and is a licensed contractor and plumber as well, and all those licenses require some upkeep.

“I have to go to about eight seminars a year,” Ackland said.

Bob Ackland sits in his Komatsu excavator near his business at 625  W. Main St. He’s a retired history teacher and likes to stay busy.

Photo by Kelli Lageson

Bob Ackland sits in his Komatsu excavator near his business at 625 W. Main St. He’s a retired history teacher and likes to stay busy.

He said the weather has been a little wet so he hasn’t been too busy but he expects business to pick up again soon. His main business principle is to help those who need it the most.

Around Christmas, he will help someone with a tow at no charge if it seems like they would have a hard time paying. He also set up a special fund to help people with water and sewer bills.

Another way he found to help people was learning about an emergency fund the USDA has for people with sewer problems who don’t have money to pay to fix it.

“That’s a good thing,” Ackland said.

He says he thinks the business is diversified enough with all the different tasks they can accomplish. He’s technically fully retired but doesn’t ever want to quit working. He wants all customers to be satisfied when he works with them. “That’s what we strive for is to bend over backward to satisfy,” Ackland said.

Ackland is a retired history teacher from Devils Lake, N.D. He moved back to Albert Lea to help his dad with farming and then started Big Toe & Little Toe about five years ago. He said he doesn’t miss teaching much and stays active in other ways.

He sings with a barbershop group and also sings gospel with his wife, Sharon. He’s also active with the VFW and the American Legion because he is a veteran of the Vietnam War. He likes that his business is steady but not overwhelming.

“We’re not overly busy, but we’re busy enough,” Ackland said.

Combined Effort Rescues Trapped Semi Driver In MO

Just another clear-cut example of the value towers bring to a crash scene! Kudos to the driver from Robert's Towing for his/her part in this rescue. Here's the story from
It took the combined efforts of the Palmyra Fire Department, the Quincy Fire and Rescue team and Roberts Towing out of Ewing Missouri to rescue a trapped semi truck driver early Tuesday morning.
Just before 11:30 Monday night the semi that Verne Daves of New Boston Illinois was driving, overturned on the curve just past the 24/61 split in Missouri, headed toward Quincy.

A trooper on the scene told KHQA that it appears as though Daves took the curve too fast.

Daves was pinned into the cab of the truck by the guard rail.

Emergency crews had to cut away large portions of the semi's cab in order to get him out of the vehicle.

While that was being done, a tow truck from Roberts held the semi in place to prevent it from moving during the rescue.

Once crews got Daves out he was lifeflighted to Blessing Hospital.

New Book Seeks To Improve Interactions Between Motorists and Commercial Drivers

Here's the press release:
Author Toby W. Bogard wishes to educate the everyday driver on the safest driving techniques around large commercial vehicles in Semi-Aware.

Semi-Aware by Toby W. Bogard aims to provide crucial information on how the normal, everyday driver of a noncommercial vehicle can drive safely around commercial vehicles.

As a long haul trucker, Bogard has spent years watching and noting more effective and safer ways for motorists and commercial drivers to interact on the roads to reduce accidents and improve overall safety.

In Semi-Aware, Bogard's goal is to help lower the number of accidents that occur every day on the roads and highways. Bogard intends to help make everyone that drives a noncommercial vehicle more aware of the laws, limitations and actions that affect commercial vehicle drivers on a daily basis. "In effect, I wrote the book to make everyday drivers semi-aware," he says. "People want their products deliveredsafely, and I want to get them there safely. If we all work
together, everyone wins."

Semi-Aware is available for sale online at and other channels.

About the Author
Toby W. Bogard is a graduate of CDI truck driving school. He currently drives for the 6th largest trucking company in the United States and has logged over 950,000 miles throughout his career. He is the author of On the Big Road and has two more book projects in the works, a nonfiction novel entitled Driving for God: a Christ Driven Reality Check and a fiction novel entitled Fifth Wheel. Bogard also hopes to release a CD/DVD diet and exercise program for truck drivers. A father of three, Bogard resides in eastern Tennessee.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

U.K. Bride Arrives For Wedding On Recovery Truck

Here's the story from the Bournemouth Echo:

A BRIDE arrived for her wedding on a 40ft breakdown recovery truck – to mark the day she married the man of her dreams.

Poole couple Natalie Speight, 25, and Gareth Down, 23, got hitched at Bournemouth’s Marsham Court Hotel this week.

They met three years ago to the day, when Natalie’s Vauxhall Corsa broke down near Dorchester football ground, and Gareth, then a recovery driver, arrived to help.

“There was a spark as soon as I saw him,” said Natalie, a trainee nurse at a Parkstone vet’s.

“He decided to tow me home rather than get another vehicle. He came to my house for coffee and stayed for three hours.”

Gareth, now a service advisor for Ford, was working for Ashley Wood Recovery of Blandford at the time and the company provided the vehicle – and made sure the cabin was spotless to keep the dress clean.

Natalie said: “The idea came from a mixture of both of us.

“Most people are quite good-humoured about it. A few said ‘I wouldn’t want to turn up in one of them!’.”

She added: “I like my trucks, though. My stepdad’s father used to drive HGVs and I would get in them when I was younger.”

The pair, both from Creekmoor, held the wedding and reception at the hotel before jetting to Florida for a two-week honeymoon.

FL Tower Causes Fatal Turnpike Rollover Crash

Here's the story from
Boynton Beach, FL—Troopers from the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) are investigating a fatal Boynton Beach crash that occurred on Monday, May 10, 2010. The deadly motor vehicle collision (MVC) involved a tow truck and van traveling south on Florida’s Turnpike, as reported by the Palm Beach Post.

Reports stated 42-year-old tow truck driver Mark Walter Edwards attempted to make an illegal U-turn when the incident occurred. Edwards apparently slowed down and turned into the median. Nonetheless, the rear of the tow truck remained stationed in the southbound traffic lanes. As a result, 32-year-old Anthony Giardina’s van smashed into the tow truck. On impact, the van began to roll.

Emergency medical services (EMS) crews were dispatched to the scene to transport those injured to area hospitals. Unfortunately, Lake Worth resident Giardina succumbed to his severe injuries at the scene. While the driver of the tow truck managed to escape injury, 45-year-old passenger Todd Kocher did not. Kocher was reportedly taken to Delray Medical Center. His injuries were not specified.

Officials do not seem to suspect any controlled substances contributed to the motor vehicle wreck. According to the FHP, charges are pending the outcome of accident investigations.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Bulgarian Tower Dies After Truck Falls From Bridge

Here's the story from the FOCUS Information Agency:
Sofia. One person died on Wednesday evening when a tow truck fell from a bridge and caught fire on Hemus highway close to the village of Eleshnitsa, Northern Bulgaria, the press center of the Interior Ministry told FOCUS News Agency.
A Civil Protection team was immediately sent to the site. Upon their arrival, they established the tow truck was transporting another vehicle. The driver of the tow truck died on the spot. The case is under investigation.

TN Tower Dies In Wreck With Another Tower

Our condolences to the family and acquaintances of this as-yet unnamed tower. Here's the brief story from the Jackson Sun:
A man died Wednesday afternoon when his wrecker caught on fire during an accident in Hardin County.

The accident occurred along U.S. 64 between Crump and Adamsville when two wreckers had a head on collision, according to Hardin County Fire Chief Melvin Martin.

Firefighters responded to the scene at 3:32 p.m. after one of the wreckers caught on fire.

The victim's name had not been released Wednesday night because family had not been notified.

The driver of the other wrecker refused treatment, Martin said.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Repo Biz Booming In Recession

Here's a surprisingly positive story about a repo man from WKRC in Cincinnati:
Many businesses owners are feeling the pinch from the recession - but the tough times are stimulating other enterprises. One of those reaping the benefits - the dangerous work of vehicle repossession. Local 12's Rich Jaffe takes us for a ride with the repo man.

After the sun goes down, like an avenging angel from the dark world of finance Josh Katz prowls the streets of the Tri-State. With the hungry hook of his tow truck waiting for it's next connection, Katz consults a long list provided by finance companies and banks. Included is information about people who've fallen behind in payments for their vehicles

. "I really feel for these people I have sympathy for them, but I have to tell you I don't think it's the economy, I'm sure that attributes to it a lot but I think it's just people being poor with money, poor with handling money, and being lazy with their payments."

Katz doesn't fit your regular image of a truck driver. He calls himself a white collar repo man... an aspiring screen writer, he's finishing a college degree, but at night he works for Citywide Towing. Citywide crews search the streets around the clock for their non-paying prizes. "I HAD A GOOD NIGHT LAST NIGHT... GOT FOUR..."

The key for most repo agents is finding a way to get to the target vehicle. While they can't open your garage door, or force you to give up the keys, once they "get their hooks" into it... the property legally belongs to them. Immediately after they call police. "Hi I'd like to report a vehicle repossession...."

While repo agent's generally try to de-escalate confrontations, it can be an extremely dangerous occupation. Last year, near Atlanta, one repo man was killed and another seriously wounded when Justin Moore opened fire on them with a shotgun as they repossessed his Mustang. Moore actually chased them down, ran them off the road and opened fire. A stiff price to pay when you consider a single vehicle is worth about fifty dollars to a repo agent.

On this night Katz cruised the extensive parking lot of a local apartment complex looking for the right Chevy Malibu. When he found it, he counseled the driver how to get it back and even helped her remove personal property.

The recession has hit every sector of the economy so hard that the repo business is going like gang busters, and it's not just cars. These guys have recently taken in everything from jet skis, to bass boats to RV's.

About 60 percent of the local repo business takes place at night but during the day they also hook up. "My truck stays right here...I'll get that car to my truck."

Josh McWhorter literally dragged this car to his tow truck. It's one of two his company wants from the same address. "My thing is this car's been sitting there and sitting there and it's a repo too, we been trying to get the other one before we get this one and it's time to get one of them."

Occasionally confronted by everything from angry dogs to loaded shotguns, these guys try to be philosophical about what they do. "Ultimately you just have to understand it's a job and you're doing the right thing morally and ethically there are no problems I have with the job, but I still feel sorry for people but no there's nothing anybody can say to me nothing at all, just stand there stone faced and take it."

Realistically a bank or finance company can repossess your vehicle if you fall behind by just one payment... But most would rather work with you to make the payments.

Everyday Tow Heroes In IL

Round of applause to the crew from Reynold's Towing, who came out to help clean up trash after the marathon! Here's the story from The Daily

As the 2010 Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon weekend ended successfully, local volunteers helped clean up the trash and remnants.

15,000 runners and 2,500 volunteers participated Saturday, according to a press release from Christie Clinic. Reynolds Towing volunteered to help clean up the aftermath.

"Our goal is to leave the streets on the routes clean and tidy and also to avoid any overburden on the city workers," said Susan Jepson, Reynolds' chief financial officer.

Sally Walker, University High School Athletic Director, gathered 225 volunteers to join the Marathon Clean-Up Team.

A plan was compiled to clean-up during and after the race. Walker's crew worked the entire race course to pick up garbage and dispose it in color-coded trash bags during the races Saturday. They were stationed at each mile.

A truck from Reynolds Towing followed the last runners to the finish line to pick up clothes that runners tossed off; they will be donated to Goodwill. A donated trash hauler from ABC Sanitary picked up trash bags filled with trash and recyclables and took them to their facility to be separated. A minivan and pick-up truck from Reynolds pulled the Marathon trailer to pick up equipment from water and aid stations, signs, tables and mile marker balloons.

They were unaware of any missing trash.

Jepson said last year's marathon lacked a clean-up operation, leaving the organizers to pick up the entire route.

"We had a parade of six vehicles with flashing lights, and we went through the entire marathon route," Jepson said. "It was two full loads in 26 miles of making sure that the community was left the way it started."

Martha Osterbur, media coordinator for Christie Clinic, said the marathon was fortunate to have such "outstanding" volunteers, and it could not have happened without them.

"For all of the people that came to Central Illinois, I am certain that they left with the best impression," Osterbur said.

She added that the spectators along the route Saturday cheered on runners and helped take care of them.

"The whole community came together and made this what it was," Osterbur said.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

City of Pittsburgh Approves Rules For Towing Firms

Here's the story from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Tow-truck drivers must wear identification tags and promptly report the towing of certain vehicles to authorities under legislation given final approval Tuesday by Pittsburgh City Council.

Councilman Doug Shields' bill is designed to protect motorists from unscrupulous towing companies. It applies mainly to "non-consensual tows" -- a term for illegally parked vehicles towed from privately owned lots.

Some towing companies had opposed the legislation, saying motorists wouldn't have a problem if they parked legally in the first place. However, Mr. Shields said he was galvanized by complaints about price gouging, a refusal to let motorists pay by credit card, hidden fees and other problems.

While the legislation doesn't regulate towing fees -- council previously did that -- he said he hopes it will "bring some order to a very chaotic situation."

Under the legislation, companies performing non-consensual tows must pay $100 for an initial license and $50 for an annual renewal. Each truck in the company's fleet must bear a city-issued sticker costing $10 annually.

The tow company must provide the city with insurance and other information, store vehicles at a secure impound site and electronically notify authorities of each non-consensual tow within one hour of storing the vehicle. The company must have the property owner's written consent to tow each vehicle.

Individual tow-truck drivers must pay $25 for an initial license and $10 for an annual renewal, and they must keep city-issued identification badges with them at all times while on towing details.

Companies face fines and loss of licenses for violating the requirements. The legislation sets up a hearing board for appeals of license revocations.

Tow companies may charge motorists $10 to cover the electronic reporting requirement, but $5 of that must be remitted to a Web-based clearinghouse to be used for tracking towed vehicles.

Monday, May 3, 2010

FleetNet Has New Towing & Recovery Manager

Here's the release:
FleetNet America has promoted Danny Smith to the position of manager of towing and recovery.

Smith joined FleetNet in 2005, and he has over 30 years of experience in the transportation industry, including parts and dock supervision. In his new position, he'll be responsible for expanding the company's Select Towing program, and auditing towing invoices, negotiating rates, and ensuring vendor insurance compliance. He will report directly to James Williams, senior director of towing and recovery and vendor relations.

FleetNet America is a third-party vendor management company that coordinates emergency roadside events and all other scheduled/unscheduled maintenance management services.

TX Towers Rally, Mourn For One Of Own

Here's the Abilene Reporter News story on the memorial service for TX tower Adam Lopez, who was killed on April 20:

Shortly after 8 a.m. on Saturday morning the first tow truck, a big 18-wheeler, pulled in to the yard at Freddy’s Garage just off Interstate 20 in Ranger.

A few minutes later, another truck, a “roll-back” pulled in. A few minutes later came another. Then another.

They came from Sweetwater, from Cisco, from Weatherford. Two came all the way from San Antonio.

By 9 a.m., the yard was nearly full with tow trucks of all shapes and sizes from across the state.

The drivers gathered in clusters, talking in hushed tones, eyes cast down at boots tracing awkward tracks in the gravel. Hats removed, hands shaken, people moved from group to group, conversing.

They had gathered to mourn the loss of one of their own, killed while performing his duty a few days earlier.

Just after midnight on Wednesday, Adam Lopez Jr. was helping clear a truck wreck from the center median on I-20 east of Ranger. Members of the Texas Department of Transportation and the Texas Department of Public Safety were on hand to guide traffic around the working crews.

According to the DPS news release, about 12:20 a.m., a motorist heading east left the road, entered the median and hit the wrecked truck just before hitting Lopez. He was taken immediately to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, where he was pronounced dead at 5:01 a.m.

The Department of Public Safety’s investigation into the accident is still ongoing.

dangerous job

For tow truck operators, danger exists with every call out, whether clearing a wrecked 18-wheeler or changing a tire on a family minivan. Operators who gathered at Freddy’s Garage before the funeral on Saturday could recount several close calls.

“My wife would sell my truck if I told her about every close call I’ve had,” said M.D. Lee of Cisco. After 40 years of operating a tow truck, he says he cannot recall how many near-misses he’s endured.

“You don’t want to dwell on them, and you don’t want to count them,” he said. “You just have to put it out of your mind to be able to keep going.”

Jose Rosado, of Sweetwater, recalled a recent brush with death.

“Last winter, out in Scurry County, a big rig had jackknifed in the median,” he said. “I was out there with another wrecker, when another 18-wheeler came along and hit a car I was loading up on my truck. I happened to be looking up and saw it coming — and managed to jump out of the way.”

An on-duty tow truck operator driver is killed, on average, every six days — more than 60 each year — according to Jess Horton of the Southwest Towing Association,.

Under current legislation, tow trucks are not afforded any protection under the “Move Over” laws that require motorists to slow down and change lanes when emergency vehicles are working on the roadways.

Horton said Texas is one of the few remaining states that have not extended this protection to tow truck operators.

Many operators would like to see laws passed enabling tow trucks to be fitted with red-and-blue emergency lights like police cars. However, one police officer who wished not to be identified said the chances of this happening are slim.

“That’s a big part of the problem,” said Harris Gingles, who works out of Freddy’s Garage. “People see the amber lights and think, ‘Hey, it’s not a cop, so I don’t have to slow down or move over.’”

Most tow truck operators work alone, which means they are often doing multiple things at once.

Daniel Garcia, of Comanche, said it takes anywhere from 10 minutes to a few hours to complete a job.

“Even with your most basic disabled vehicle, you’re out there trying to keep the driver and their family safe,” he said. “You’re trying to get the vehicle loaded up on to the truck, and you’re keeping an eye down the road looking for what’s coming. All the while, you’ve got cars and trucks speeding by, just a few feet away from where you’re working.”

final farewell

More than 300 people filed into the sanctuary of the First Baptist Church in Ranger on Saturday morning: friends and family, firefighters and tow truck drivers. The pews and aisles were filled to capacity with those saying a final farewell to Lopez, a local boy who loved his town.

Friends say he was involved in too many activities to list. He had served on the city council. He was on the board of directors of the Ranger Historical Society. He had spent the past 15 years working as a volunteer firefighter with the Ranger Fire Department.

While hymns were sung and Scriptures read inside, on the street outside the church, diesel engines could be heard firing up. With the Ranger Fire Department coordinating, more than 35 tow trucks and fire trucks created an honor guard along Main Street, lining the route from the church to the cemetery. As the hearse slowly rolled past the assembled trucks, fire fighters snapped to attention and tow truck operators bowed their heads.

“Adam never met a stranger,” said Jason Wiesen, longtime friend and owner of Freddy’s Garage. “You’d send him out on a job, and he’d come back with five new friends.”

“We’re a tight-knit group,” he added. “The towing industry is a lot like a family. There aren’t as many of us as you’d think, and we tend to help one another out.”

Positive Profile On CT Tower

That's refreshing! Here's the story from The Hour:


Hour Correspondent

You could say that Corey Gawricki is hooked on his job.

It sounds cliché, but he provides a service that many of us don't think of until we need it -- and then he's the most important person in the world.

For the better part of 16 years, Gawricki has worked as a tow truck operator for Connecticut Towing and Recovery, located on Church Street. Most of his days -- and nights -- are spent in or near a flatbed truck responding to calls for help on the side of the road.

When a car breaks down and needs a tow to the service station, he swings into action. If the police department finds an unregistered vehicle or needs a vehicle involved in a crime impounded, he's got their back. And when a tractor-trailer jackknifes on the highway, it's him we rely on to get traffic moving again.

He's dealt with irate customers who don't want their cars towed, feared for his life as traffic roars by within feet of him, and sprung from his table in the middle of dinner to help you out -- and he wouldn't have it any other way.

"You've got to be a people person and a good driver," he said. "Most important, you have to want to work. You never know when you're going to be busy. It can be dead all day and then it's 5:30 and you get slammed with 10 or 15 calls."

Gawricki's "office" is his flatbed, which he takes home to his Buttonball Trail home every night so he can be on call 24 hours a day. Connecticut Towing and Recovery is located off Taylor Avenue and a stone's throw from I-95, so close they can almost hear the wrecks when they happen.

While he says he never likes to see people get hurt in accidents, the recovery work is what he lives for. Do enough routine towing jobs for a while and you'll see why he finds it fun to pull a big rig from off the side of the road. It's not easy work pulling vehicles that weigh thousands of pounds upright. Whenever he responds he needs to think about traffic concerns, how thick of a cable to use, and where the vehicle will end up once he gets it up. And a new state law that requires motorists to pull over for emergency vehicles -- apparently they don't get it that he's one of them.

"If you're a tow truck on the side of the road, people don't slow down. You're out there trying to hook up a car, and then a trailer truck goes by you two feet away," he said. "Here I am lying on the side of the roadway."

Like it or not, Gawricki gets to see the results of people driving too fast and the after-effects of what happens when people end up on the bad side of accidents. He's seen more dead and mangled bodies than a 33-year-old should see, but it's part of the job. He'll tell you -- with a tear in his eye -- about the double tractor-trailer that went off I-95 near Exit 17 in 2006 and went through a wood barrier. And he'll tell you about the Volvo wagon that rode the guardrail on the Merritt Parkway and stopped only when it hit a bridge abutment and the driver went through the open sunroof.

"It was grey in color -- I remember things like that," he said. "I just remember the guy in the body bag with his arms and legs ripped off. I don't have the stomach for that."

While gruesome scenes like this stick in his mind, most of his day is spent responding to more mundane calls for help -- usually the motorist stuck on the side of the road. The company contracts with AAA and several insurance companies, so daily calls are more likely to include dead batteries, flat tires, and lockouts. While his heavy duty truck has all the winches, hooks, and cables needed to pull stuck vehicles out of sticky situations, he also carries crowbars, wrenches, and other simple tools needed for the smaller jobs.

Gawricki is one of four guys on the road daily for Connecticut Towing and Recovery, and each of them gets about 10 calls daily. During snowstorms and other busy times, he said there can be 50 calls waiting for them at a time. He's had his share of irate customers, too -- those who think the tow truck takes too long to get there or that the cost is too much.

Tow truck drivers in Connecticut are governed by the state Department of Motor Vehicles, and it's that entity that sets the price for tows starting at $88 based on vehicle weight. The law was put in place to stop the price gouging found in some big cities like New York, where "chaser" trucks listen to scanners and race to be the first on the scene to charge whatever they want. Gawricki has at times left a driver stranded who decided he wanted to argue with him about his job.

"People think we tow them because we wanted to -- we're just doing our job," he said. "We try to treat everyone with respect but we don't always get it back."

Gawricki was born in Norwalk in 1977 and still lives in the house he grew up in on Buttonball Trail. He attended Tracey School, West Rocks Middle School, and attended Norwalk High for two years before deciding school wasn't the path for him.

In 1994, he was hired by Wayne Masone, who ran Connecticut Towing and Recovery out of Norwalk Exxon on Main Street. At that time, the company only operated one two truck and that's how Gawricki learned.

But like most trades, learning is doing, and he grew up with trucking at a very young age. Many of his uncles and relatives were truckers, and he decided to follow in their footsteps.

"When I was a kid, I used to watch B.J. and the Bear, and I thought driving a truck was the coolest thing," he said.

After getting his commercial driving license at age 18, Gawricki took jobs driving big rigs. His first job was with a transporter company that would drive the cars of snowbirds down to Florida and back. In 2003, he worked for his uncle's construction company operating heavy duty pavers and excavators, and then in 2005 he went to work driving a dump truck for Bonnadio Construction.

He always took side jobs driving trucks, but it was towing that was his first love, and he's been doing it for Masone ever since. The company has grown a lot over the years, and moved to the new location in 2002 to a bigger place so they could focus on body work as well as towing. There's a lot more to towing than meets the eye, and Gawricki has gone to school to get better at it. He attended Lewiston, NY-based Wreckmasters, a training school for the towing industry that runs clinics to help operators become safer and more effective at their jobs. Skills learn include how to safely hook up a vehicle, and basic physics of moving a large vehicle.

"They basically don't want you to kill yourself," he said. "If you're trying to move a car that's 8,000 pounds, and you're using a cable rated for 3,000 pounds, that's not a good thing."

When he's not on the road, you can find Gawricki watching drag racing or on the water boating, a hobby he has enjoyed since he was 17 years old when he got his first boat.

"Everyone is happy on the water," he said. "Everybody waves to each other. You don't see too many people waving to a guy in a tow truck."

Tow Truck Simulator 2010 - It's Out :)

Towing - live it & now play it!