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Saturday, July 31, 2010

MA Man Killed In Car, Tow Truck Crash

More sad news. Here's the story from the Boston Herald:
REVERE — State police said a 23-year-old Lynn man has been killed in a two-car in Revere.

Authorities said a flatbed tow truck on Friday struck from behind a 1998 Honda Civic stopped at a red light southbound on the Lynnway. Both vehicles caught fire upon impact.

Twenty-two-year-old motorist Ronnie Huon and 18-year-old passenger Cassandra Pok were able to escape and were transported by ambulance to Salem Hospital. But police said a 23-year-old Lynn man sitting in the Honda’s rear seat, was unable to escape and was pronounced deceased at the scene.

His identity is being withheld pending notification of family.

Tow truck, 23-year-old Derek Gallien, of Peabody, was not injured in the crash.

The tow truck is owned by G and J Towing of Revere.

No other information was available.

Boy, 7, Fatally Struck By M.T.A. Tow Truck in NY

Sad, sad news. Here's the New York Times story:
A 7-year-old boy was killed on Friday morning when the driver of a Metropolitan Transportation Authority tow truck struck him and his mother as they walked together in East Harlem, the authorities said.
The boy’s 34-year-old mother was taken to Harlem Hospital Center after the accident, about 9 a.m., and was listed in stable condition there, the police said. Officials declined to immediately identify the boy or his mother.
Responders said the injured woman appeared to be pregnant, possibly as many as seventh months into her term.
The accident occurred at the on-bound ramp to the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, formerly known as the Triborough Bridge, near East 124th Street and Second Avenue, after a 39-year-old tow truck driver, who is assigned to work at the bridge, “had just received a call to assist a disabled vehicle,” according to a statement from the authority’s bridges and tunnels division.
“The driver was tested for alcohol at the scene, and it was negative,” the statement said. “The N.Y.P.D. has said they do not believe criminal charges will be filed.”
A police spokesman was unable to immediately provide specifics about the accident, like which way the boy and his mother were traveling, and said the accident was being investigated. Though the police said that “no criminality is suspected at this time,” it was not clear whether the driver might face a vehicle or traffic law violation.
The driver, the transportation authority said, has worked for the bridges and tunnels division since 2007; his duties include removing disabled vehicles.

IL DOT Tow Truck Struck By PickUp Truck, Drivers Injured

Here's the Chicago Sun-Times story:
A pick-up truck struck at an IDOT tow truck early Saturday, injuring the driver and the IDOT worker.

At about 12 a.m., a man was driving north on the Dan Ryan Expressway (I-94) near 31st Street in a 2003 Chevrolet Avalanche when he struck a green tow truck emergency traffic patrol vehicle that was helping a disabled vehicle on the left lane, an Illinois State Police District Chicago trooper said.

The 27-year-old Carpentersville man claims a black vehicle cut him off, forcing him to rear-end the tow truck. He also said he did not see the emergency lights on the tow truck, the trooper said.

He and the driver in the tow truck were taken to Mercy Hospital and Medical Center with minor injuries, the trooper said.

He was ticketed with violating Scott’s Law, which deals with failure to pay attention to emergency vehicles, and failure to reduce speed to avoid a crash, the trooper said.

The tow truck struck and another emergency vehicle was in the left lane, while a third emergency vehicle and the disabled vehicle was on the left shoulder, the trooper said. No on else was hurt.

Illinois State Police are investigating.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Everyday KY Tow Hero

Round of applause to Stephen Mulberry of Owens Wrecker Service who helped police catch the driver who hit this 12-year-old girl and drove away!
Here's the story from The Times-Tribune:
CORBIN — By Becky Manley / Staff Writer

The 12-year-old girl who was struck by a hit-and-run driver Monday needs surgery to repair her injured knees.

The girl, Meghan Roehrich, was with her younger brother about 3 p.m. when a van driving toward Corbin on Cumberland Falls Highway struck her, according to Angie Cook, owner of This & That, a business located next to the Roehrichs’ home.

The van never stopped after the girl was struck.

Cook, who was among those who dialed 911, said she ran outside to help Meghan. Another neighbor, Rita Hensler, who said she heard a “thud” then looked outside her window only to see Meghan on the highway, also dialed 911. Hensler went outside to see if the girl was conscious and a passerby who stopped to help told her an ambulance was already on its way.

As they waited for the ambulance, cook said Meghan was quiet at first, then she asked for her father, Stephen Roehrich, who was already by her side, Cook said. Meghan then asked for Cook’s son, who had attended Oak Grove Elementary School with her.

Cook said her sons held sheets above Meghan to shield her from the hot sun.

“She didn’t cry one time,” Cook said, adding that Meghan did say her back hurt as rescuers and good Samaritans helped to transfer her onto a gurney.

Hensler said she later talked to Meghan’s grandmother and heard the girl had been transferred from Baptist Regional Medical Center to University of Kentucky Medical Center.

“When they said they airlifted her, we knew she was in trouble,” Hensler said.

Corbin police said the girl was in serious condition Monday. On Tuesday, Cook said a family member told her Meghan was in fair condition and was expected to have surgery to repair injuries to her leg and knee.

Cook also said Meghan had stitches to repair an injury to her head and that her pelvis was fractured.

Hensler said the highway remained closed for two hours as the police investigation began.

After Meghan was struck, a description of the van was announced over the radio. A tow truck driver, Stephen Mulberry of Owens Wrecker Service, spotted the van and followed it to a residence on the northeast corner of 11th Street and Kentucky Avenue. Several minutes later, Col. Bruce Rains of the Corbin Police Department arrested the driver, Michael Petrey, 42.

Petrey was booked into the Whitley County Detention Center Monday and charged with second-degree assault, leaving the scene of an accident, driving without a license and failure to maintain required insurance, according to Whitley County Detention Center records.

The investigation by Corbin police continues.

To help

Collections are being taken to benefit Meghan Roehrich, 12, who suffered serious injuries after she was struck by a hit-and-run driver Monday.

—Angie Cook, owner of This & That, located along Cumberland Falls Highway between I-75 and KY 727, said she will donate to the Roehrich family half of her profit from sales at her store Wednesday and Thursday. She will also have a jar taking cash donations. Hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

—Cook has arranged for donations to be accepted and a moment of prayer for the Roehrich family to be observed Friday at a free karaoke night in the parking lot of Sing and Dance. The event begins at 7:30 p.m.

—Oak Grove Elementary School is collecting money and gift cards for the Roehrich family. For more information, call 549-7867.

CO Tow Co. Hit With $208K In Fines

Here's the News 7 story:
DENVER -- A Denver towing company that was the subject of a CALL7 Investigation is now facing $208,725 in civil penalties from the state Public Utilities Commission.

"The PUC has probably caught me running without a permit and insurance. I think they got me this time," said Lyons Towing owner Randy Lyons in a phone conversation with CALL7 Investigator Tony Kovaleski.

The PUC penalty notice is dated July 20 and lists 105 violations between June 16 and July 1.

The violations include operating without insurance and operating after being notified of a suspension by the PUC.

The fines would be reduced to $104,362 if paid by July 30.

"It's a pretty significant penalty," said PUC spokesman Terry Bote.

One of the vehicles towed while the company was allegedly without insurance and a permit was Cody Naughton's Ford Bronco.

"I thought my car was stolen," said Naughton.

His father is well-known car dealer Mike Naughton.

"It's wrong. I'm going after them. I want my money back and my time and I'm not the only one," said Mike Naughton.

In November 2008, the CALL7 Investigators reported that Lyons Towing accounted for 27 percent of all towing complaints filed with the PUC in the prior 12 months -- the most of any towing company in Colorado.

State regulations require that tow truck drivers offer a drop fee of no more than $70 (in 2008 it was $64) to people who come upon their vehicle being towed, and tow companies cannot take vehicles unless the lot owner or his or her representative is present to sign the ticket. The towing company or its employees cannot be a designated representative.

The complaints filed in 2008 as well as 7NEWS hidden cameras showed that Lyons Towing did not always follow regulations.

"It's horrible, and I thank you for showing this to us," said PUC director Doug Dean in 2008, after he was shown some of the undercover video. "It's something we need to go out and do more investigations on and put this company on notice that this type of behavior is not going to be tolerated in Colorado."

On Oct. 9 of that year, Lyons towed a 7NEWS "bait" vehicle out of a lot at 14th Avenue and Pennsylvania Street. At first, they offered a news producer the $64 drop fee, but when he returned to the lot with the money the tow driver pulled away, taking the vehicle.

"I've got 64 bucks -- I've got your money!" the producer yelled, running alongside the tow truck.

Lyons employees charged that producer $240 to get the vehicle released at the tow yard.

When the producer complained while picking up the truck, Lyons employees said he can either pay the full tow charge or the company can keep the vehicle.

The following day, in the same lot, the Lyons driver was again on hidden camera and this time did not offer the "drop fee."

"This is my car right there. I want it," the 7NEWS employee said, in 2008.

"Call the number on the sign," the driver said.

"But I want it right now," the 7NEWS employee said.

Again Lyons Towing employees did not care when the person complained that the driver did not offer the drop fee.

"What you are trying to tell me, and argue your point, is pointless pretty much ... because you are not going to get anywhere," an employee told the producer on hidden camera, in 2008.

In both cases, there was neither a lot owner nor representative of the Salvation Army, which owns the lot, on site to point out the vehicle and sign the tow ticket. That is a violation of state regulations.

And in both cases, the drivers wrote that they offered the drop fee on the tow tickets.

On two other occasions, Lyons Towing employees accepted the drop fees when 7NEWS vehicles were being towed.

When confronted with video of the company's actions, Randy Lyons returned our $480.

The 2008 CALL7 Investigation led to fines against the company and new towing regulations statewide.

'Bandit' Tow Truck Complaint Hotline Launched in L.A.

Here's the KABC News 7 story:
The Los Angeles Police Commission has set up a hotline for complaints about tow truck operators.
The goal is to reduce the number of bandit towing companies.
People who feel they have been victimized by towing companies that demonstrate unethical and illegal business practices are encouraged to call the hotline at (323) 680-4-TOW (4869).
An investigator from Commission Investigation Division, the arm of the police commission that regulates permits throughout Los Angeles, will be assigned to look into the complaints.
Police say bandit tow operators are different from law-abiding tow operators. Bandit tow operators illegally monitor police and fire department radio frequencies and unlawfully respond to the scene of traffic collisions.
Police say they often work in partnership with unscrupulous repair shops, attorneys and medical practitioners, or stake out private parking lots in order to tow away vehicles whose owners are not patrons of the businesses associated with that lot.
Other practices include demanding cash and excessive over charges.
For more information regarding the tow company complaint hotline and towing issues within the City of Los Angeles, please call Detective III Ben Jones, Commission Investigation Division, at (213) 996-1230.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Farewell, Friend

Our condolences to the family and acquaintances of Anthony P. Rendino, owner of Rendino's Towing of Syracuse, NY. Rendino, 70, died July 20. Here's the story from www.syracuse.com about a procession in his honor:

Syracuse, NY-- About 60 tow trucks drove solemnly along Salina Street in Syracuse this morning in a funeral procession honoring Anthony P. Rendino, a long time advocate for, and a mentor to, other drivers.

The 70-year-old Rendino, known as Tony to his friends, died Tuesday
. He was the owner and operator of Rendino’s Towing Inc. in Syracuse.
Pedestrians and traffic along Salina street to watch the motorcade of trucks escorted by police drive past.
Philip Cady, a driver for MC’s Towing, organized the procession in Rendino's honor.

“He was a phenomenal guy. He did everything for everybody. He was great for the community,” Cady said. “This is the least we can do for him and his family.”

The procession began on Park Street near the Farone & Son Funeral Home. It traveled down Court Street, turning south on Salina Street and through the downtown to Oakwood Cemetery.
Later about 100 friends and family gathered at Mama Nancy’s diner on State Fair Boulevard, where Rendino and his wife Karen were regulars.
Rendino was a long-time customer and a close personal friend, said Doug LaLone, the diner’s manager.

“He was a stand-up guy who helped anybody who needed help,” he said. “Whatever we did today wouldn’t have been enough to honor him.”


The restaurant owned by Nancy Bianchi picked up the check for the after-funeral meal, LaLone said.

Cady said he met Rendino by chance when the two were called to work at the same accident scene. Cady’s car was tougher to get out of the guardrail and, even though Rendino’s car was already loaded onto his truck, he stuck around to help.

The two quickly became friends, he said.

“He showed me stuff I never even knew about tow trucks,” Cady said. “He was a mentor to a ton of people including me.”

After another tow truck driver was killed while hooking up a vehicle, Rendino insisted that police officers always park behind drivers while they did their work, Cady said.


At the time Rendino organized a truck-procession for the driver to bring awareness to the problem, according to The Post-Standard archives.

When he learned Tuesday afternoon that Rendino had died, Cady said he got on the phone right away calling towing companies on lists kept by the Syracuse Police, Onondaga County Sheriff’s Department, and other police agencies, and going through the phone book to organize drivers in a procession.
Despite the short notice, drivers gave up business and time with their families to honor Rendino, Cady said.

One of those that took part was Ron Pullen, of Weedsport, a driver for Big Red Towing. Although he didn’t know Rendino, Pullen said he was pleased to take part. “It was quite an honor for this gentleman,” he said.

That’s a shame, according to Cady.
“If you even met him one time you would never forget him. Talking to him for 30 seconds you would never forget that man,” he said.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

CA Tow Truck Operator Gets 14 Years In Plea Deal

Here's an update in the long-running case of CA tow truck operator Vincent Cardinalli from the Hollister Free Lance:
In a move that took prosecutors by surprise, a tow truck operator who has spent three years in jail awaiting trial pleaded no contest to 99 felonies and one misdemeanor.

Vincent Cardinalli, a 67-year-old San Benito County resident, pleaded no contest to a litany of embezzlement, perjury, forgery and other charges the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office brought against him after uncovering a tow and sue scam Cardinalli ran with his two children and a son-in-law. He will likely serve 14 years in prison, said prosecutor Victor Chen, who just took over the massive case this week. He credited former prosecutor Dale Lohman and one of the scam's victims, Greg Adler, with the work leading up to the plea.

Without them, "he would clearly still be victimizing people," Chen said.

Chen met with Cardinalli's defense attorney this morning for a readiness hearing prior to his trial, which was scheduled to take place Aug. 16. At previous hearings, "every offer he floated to us was ridiculous," Chen said. "We certainly didn't expect him to plead today."

Chen said he expects a sentencing hearing to be scheduled later this year.

Earlier this year, Cardinalli's son, tow truck operator Paul Greer, 33, pleaded no contest to 59 felony counts, according to prosecutors. His charges included 26 counts of attempted grand theft, 14 counts of perjury, 13 counts of subornation of perjury, three counts of embezzlement and one count each of conspiracy to obstruct justice, presentation of false evidence and burglary. Greer will receive eight years in prison, Lohman said earlier this year.

Cardinalli's daughter, Rosemary Ball, 35, also pleaded no contest to one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice, one count of attempted grand theft and one count of perjury, according to the District Attorney's office. Her husband, Michael Ball, 39, pleaded no contest to one felony count of attempted grand theft. They will be sentenced to between four and six months of county jail and 150 days of electronic monitoring.

Man Charged With Attempted Murder In Philly Tow Feud

Here's an update on the uproar in Philly from The Philadelphia Inquirer: 

The son of the owner of a North Philadelphia towing firm was charged Friday with attempted murder in the shooting of a driver from a rival company in a war between wreck chasers. Jose LaTorre Jr., 40, surrendered to East Detectives Thursday night after being on the run for four days. Besides attempted murder, he was charged with aggravated assault, weapons offenses, terroristic threats, and simple assault in the wounding Monday of a driver from the rival Mystical Complete Auto Service at a car crash scene. Officials said LaTorre arrived at the scene in his Cadillac Escalade and claimed the tow for his family's J & Son's Auto Body. A dispute ensued when a the Mystical driver showed up in a tow truck. LaTorre, of the 5700 block of Vandike Street, shot the driver in the thigh and fled, police said.  - Troy Graham

Friday, July 23, 2010

Footnotes' August Digital Edition Now Available!

New Rules For Towing In Philly

A recent shooting in Philly has led to some new rules... Here's the story from The Philadelphia Inquirer:
News of traffic accidents in Philadelphia is no longer being dispatched over the airwaves. City officials hope the new policy will lead tow-truck drivers to ditch their police scanners and stop harassing motorists. Instead, police are being alerted to accidents through written electronic messages delivered directly to laptop computers in their cars.
Additionally, radio dispatchers have been instructed to call for a tow truck, if warranted at an accident scene, when they inform police of the accident. Until now, tow trucks were not requested until officers were on site.
Both practices took effect Thursday, a consequence of the historically aggressive activity of tow-truck companies that this week resulted in gunfire, sending one driver to the hospital, as well as the torching of 13 cars in one company's care.
"I don't think there is a thing [the tow-truck companies] can do about" the new policies, Deputy Police Commissioner Jack Gaittens said.
Exceptions will be made for collisions with serious injuries, he said.
Police radio is generally more effective because officers who hear the calls and are near an accident sometimes arrive sooner than officers who receive a specific call for help.
"It's a trade-off, and we are going to have to weigh certain factors," Gaittens said. "We are not looking to replace police-radio transmissions and tie up the [computers]."
This week's criminal activities marked a low in the decades-long struggle to better regulate the tow-truck operators, some of whom descend on accident victims and persuade shaken-up drivers to agree to services that often result in exorbitant bills.
One of those allegedly involved in this week's violence surrendered to police Thursday evening. Jose LaTorre Jr. turned himself in around 6:30 at 25th District headquarters in North Philadelphia, Lt. Frank Vanore, a police spokesman, said. LaTorre faces charges of aggravated assault and related offenses.
LaTorre, a son of the owner of J & Sons Auto Body, arrived at the scene of a North Philadelphia accident on Monday to claim the tow job, though he was driving his Cadillac Escalade. When a driver for Mystical Towing showed up in a tow truck, a dispute erupted over which company would get the job. LaTorre allegedly then shot the Mystical driver in the left thigh and fled.
At least two City Council members are seeking to impose stronger rules for notifying tow companies, including Frank Rizzo, whose 2008 legislation resulted in the creation of a vetted list of tow-truck operators called by police on a rotating basis.
Told of the new policy minimizing transmissions on the airwaves, Rizzo - who suggested that change to Gaittens early Thursday - said: "That absolutely solves 99 percent of the problems. This pulls the plug on their ability to get information."
Nonetheless, some tow-truck operators are not convinced the new policies will change much - or that much change is needed.
"It's always worked smooth for me. I don't have any problems with the wreck chasers," said Giovanni Salvatore, a dispatcher at Towing By the Hook. "A lot of times, there is no other tower there but me."
On the other hand, Jeff Hartka of Jeff's Towing Service, said the rotation program was a failure to begin with. In the two years it has been in effect, he said, "Nobody has ever called me. Not once."
Councilman Jim Kenney is calling for additional changes.
His legislation, which he said he plans to introduce when Council reconvenes in September, would require dispatchers to contact tow-truck drivers when they call for officers - and would institute a fine for other tow trucks showing up on the scene.
Given the current controversy, Kenney said, he would like the current rotation list suspended, and instead have police use the same tow-truck operators they use to retrieve stolen cars.
"They've been vetted, they are insured, and their drivers have background checks," he said.
Motorists who break down or have accidents should call AAA if they have it, or for roadside assistance through their car dealer, Jana Tidwell, a AAA Mid-Atlantic spokeswoman, said.
Another option is for drivers to call their auto insurance companies, which usually can recommend local tow-truck companies, she said.
"We've known for many years that this is a serious problem in Philadelphia," she said. "Unfortunately, the rotational tow system is not being utilized as intended."

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tow War In Philly?

Here's the story from WPVI-TV:
PHILADELPHIA - July 21, 2010 (WPVI) -- Philadelphia police are investigating a pair of incidents overnight that might be the start of a war between rival towing companies.

About 12 or 13 cars were set on fire just before 1:00 a.m. in the rear lot of J & Sons Auto Collision located on the 3100 block of N 2nd St in the Hunting Park section of Philadelphia. There were no injuries reported.

"If the Philadelphia Fire Department didn't respond as quick as it did I would have lost everything," said Jose LaTorre, Sr., owner of J & Sons.

The Philadelphia Fire Department has declared this a suspicious fire.

Meanwhile, Philadelphia Police report that someone fired about 6 bullets into the Mystical Towing office building around 1:30 a.m. Wednesday on the 100 block of West Ashdale Street in the Olney section of Philadelphia.

The owner and his wife were in the building, but nobody was hurt.

"I heard a couple of different bangs, I didn't know it was gunshots at first," said John Campbell, owner of Mystical Towing. "I came outside, then when I came in is when I noticed all the holes in the walls."

Police are trying to figure out if the fire and shooting are in any way linked to Monday morning's shooting between two tow truck drivers from J & Sons Towing and Mystical Towing.

The shooting happened at the scene of a minor crash at Whitaker and Hunting Park avenues. Police say Jose LaTorre, Jr., apparently arrived at the scene first, driving a black Cadillac Escalade. He's also the son of the owner of J & Son's Towing.

At one point a tow truck from Mystical Towing, driven by Anabel Carrera, also arrived and an argument ensued.

"The guy in the Escalade sees the guy in the tow truck, tells the guy to move his truck because he blocked him in with the tow truck," said witness Jack Roth.

The shooting happened after that argument, Roth said, and LaTorre took off. He remains at large.

LaTorre, Sr. said he has not doubt the fire at his shop Wednesday morning was an act of retaliation.

Towers On Strike In Jackson, MS

Here's the story from www.wjtv.com:
More than a dozen wrecker companies are still on strike tonight in a battle with the city of Jackson.  These companies are on JPD’s rotation list and are called to tow vehicles that are abandoned, involved in crashes, or at crime scenes.  Workers want higher fees for tows to city lots.  Wrecker owners are upset that the city’s planning committee voted Monday to propose a 10-dollar increase in fees, making it 75-dollars to tow a vehicle.  The wrecker owners want city fees to jump to 125-dollars, which is the same fee for tows to private lots.  We’re told 125-dollars is also the going rate for tows in cities in Rankin, Madison and Warren Counties, as well as for the Mississippi Highway Patrol.
“S&E is not moving ‘til this is resolved,“ says an employee at a local tow company.
Tow truck driver, Roger McCrory, knows what it’s like to get paid by the job.
“Drivers cannot get out of bed at 2:00 in the morning and make 20-dollars, especially if they’re out there working a wreck that last two to three hours,“ expresses McCrory.
McCrory says a lot more goes into the wrecker service than just picking up a car.
“You get out there and the car is rolled back on its wheels, you got to drag it, you got to clean up all that debris, pick all that stuff up and dispose of it,“ tells McCrory.
For those reasons, he says, the city of Jackson’s proposed 75-dollars per tow won’t cover all his costs.
“If it goes back up to $125, let us continue our storage, our cleanup fees, recovery fees likes it’s been the last six years,“ states McCrory.
Robert Street has been in the wrecker business for 25 years, and he’s furious with the city of Jackson for trying to cut his tow prices.
“We’re all for being regulated, but it has to be reasonable,“ comments Street.
Street says a 75-dollar tow will not help his bottom line.
“We’re basically at cost.  No money to be made there, so no need to tow it.  We have to turn a profit, we can’t dip into public funds for our money,“ recalls Street.
Street adds that his drivers are on commission.  And, a 75-dollar tow will not pay them enough money to support their families.
“If he goes out at 2:00 in the morning of a call of a car up-side-down, he makes 25- to 30- percent,“ continues Street.
That calculates to about 25-dollars per tow for each driver.  And, the price of the tow is also a flat rate for just picking up the car.  Street says it does not include any extra fees that his company should be charging the city.
“It can be up-side-down or in a ditch.  It can take some extensive recovery, an extra wrecker, or an extra man,“ adds Street.
This isn’t the first time wrecker companies have gone on strike in the metro.  We’re told in 2004, several companies on the city’s rotation list stopped working for the same reason.
The full council is set to vote on the proposed service fees next Tuesday.  But, we’re told, the wrecker companies will not back down until they reach a price agreement.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tow Truck Drivers, Property Managers Used Falsified Papers To Justify Tows In FL

Here's the story from the Sun-Sentinel:
Tow truck drivers from one of Palm Beach County's largest towing companies have been using falsified documents to remove cars from private communities, often with the cooperation of the communities' property managers, investigators allege in court documents.

Records show that Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office deputies earlier this year found stacks of pre-signed "tow slips" from property managers in two King's Wrecker Service tow trucks. Pre-signing those slips, which give a towing company permission to remove an individual car, is a violation of a county ordinance specifically created in 2005 to protect vehicle owners from so-called predatory towing.

After discovering the falsified documents and speaking with a confidential informant, deputies on July 8 raided King's Wrecker Service's office west of West Palm Beach with a search warrant.

During the search, they found even more pre-signed tow slips, an agency spokeswoman said. The company, which did not return calls for comment, is now a target of investigations by the Sheriff's Office and the county Department of Consumer Affairs.

The investigators' findings so far underscore concerns about how widespread violations of state and county towing regulations may be and raise questions about property managers' possible complicity in falsifying documents.

State law holds a property owner or manager financially responsible for any illegal tow, but it appears that in at least some cases property managers were unaware of the county's towing regulations and depended on towing companies for guidance.

"We go by what the towing company tells us to do," said Elaine Peitrzak, who manages the Palm Beach Grande community in West Palm Beach and the Nautica Lakes community in Royal Palm Beach.

Peitzrak's properties use King's for towing services, and Peitzrak said she occasionally allowed its drivers to tow cars from the properties without verifying herself whether the cars were improperly parked — an apparent violation of the county's towing rules.

Peitzrak said she did not realize she may have been violating the county's ordinance and said that verifying that a car was improperly parked was often logistically difficult for her to do personally if she was not nearby. She chose to rely on the judgment of King's drivers.

"I don't get paid enough to sit out there at 1 a.m. and tow cars," she said.

Investigators point out that the rules are in place to ensure that tow truck drivers, many of whom earn commissions on each tow, do not take cars that are properly parked. In a search warrant application, Sheriff's Office deputies said that King's practices at Peitzrak's two properties "clearly shows that King's Wrecker Service was in the practice of predatory towing."

No one has been charged or fined so far in connection with creating the tow slips but one of King's drivers, Froylan Castro, 33, was arrested in late June on a charge of grand theft of an automobile after allegedly towing a car in violation of other state and county regulations.

Sheriff's Office Sgt. John Churchill, who oversees the traffic homicide unit handling the criminal investigation, said the pre-signed tow slips are "just one aspect" of their investigation.

"We're looking at everything," he said. "It's not going to be just King's. We're looking at towing in general."

He added that property managers and their actions are also being examined.

Tow companies are allowed under state law to remove vehicles from private property with the property owner's consent, but state and county lawmakers heavily regulate the towing process in order to protect car owners from abuses.

The county's towing ordinance says that a vehicle may not be removed from private property without the "prior express instruction" of the property owner or manager. The owner or manager is required to either sign the tow slip in the tow truck driver's presence or fax the driver a signed form with an electronic time stamp.

Using pre-signed tow slips, the ordinance says, can result in a citation, suspension or revocation of an operating permit. State law says that illegal towing can constitute a first-degree misdemeanor or third-degree felony.

What is less clear is the liability, both criminal and civil, for property managers in private communities. State law holds them responsible for the financial costs of an illegal tow, and it's their signatures on the documents.

A confidential informant allegedly told Sheriff's Office investigators that the owners of King's knew their drivers used pre-signed forms, and that one of the owners even solicited the forms from property managers, according to the warrant application.

King's Wrecker Service's legal business name is Gold Star Towing. It owners are listed in state records as John and Melissa Devia, of Wellington, and Keisha Pepper, of West Palm Beach.

King's has five registered tow trucks, making it one of the county's larger towing businesses but still significantly smaller than Kauff's of Palm Beach, Emerald Transportation Corp. or Sisters Towing and Transportation, each of which have more than 10 trucks.

But while the county's largest companies focus on other services like assisting stranded drivers on the highway, King's appears to generate most of its business from so-called "private property impounds," Churchill said.

Dennis Moore, director of Palm Beach County's Division of Consumer Affairs, said that "historically there has been a cozy relationship between towing companies and property owners," and that it is part of the difficulty in investigating towing complaints.

The other key problem, he said: the fact that tow truck drivers often are paid on commission.

"There's a great incentive to move in to try to get more vehicles picked up," he said. "That at this point is the nature of the beast."

City Councilman, AAA Mid-Atlantic: Violence In Philly Could Have Been Prevented

Here's the story from the Philadelphia Daily News:
City Councilman Frank Rizzo and AAA Mid-Atlantic said that a violent confrontation between two rival tow-truck drivers might have been avoided yesterday if police were adhering to the rotational towing system that's been a city law for two years now.

Rizzo, who sponsored the rotational-towing legislation, said he was tired of seeing "wreck chasers" speed to accident scenes and take advantage of unsuspecting victims.

The law was designed to put a rotational system in place, whereby towing companies sign up to be placed on tow rotation in a particular police district.

Then, when an officer responds to an accident scene that requires a tow, he calls police radio and the next tow company on the list gets the job.

But Jana Tidwell, AAA spokeswoman, said that in the two years that AAA has been signed up for the rotation in five districts, the company has received only one rotation call.

"From the information we've received from our tow-truck and fleet drivers, the law is on the books but it's not implemented as it should be," she said. "We're baffled."

Lt. Frank Vanore, police spokesman, said if a tow-truck operator arrives at the scene before police and makes an agreement with a motorist to tow a car, police do not override that agreement.

He said rotational towing is used when there is no tow company already at the scene or if a tow truck that's not on the rotation list shows up after police arrive.

"Usually the company is already on location," he said. "They ride scanners and they ride the street, and as soon as they hear the accident go out, they go to it."

Rizzo said he's frustrated by the lack of rotational-towing enforcement by police.

"They constantly give me excuses," he said. "If I was a police officer, I'd be embarrassed to say a wreck chaser gets to an accident faster than they do."

Rizzo, who said there are just as many wreck chasers on the streets today as there were before the bill was enacted, questioned the Police Department's new policy to not respond to minor vehicle accidents.

Vanore said the policy wouldn't apply in this situation because police still must respond to any vehicle accidents that require a tow or result in injury.

But, Rizzo countered, how do police know if a tow is necessary unless they respond to the scene?

"How do they know based just on a 9-1-1 call?" he asked.



Tow Truck Driver Is Shot In North Philadelphia

Here's the story from the Philadelphia Inquirer:

A tow-truck driver was shot in a leg Monday morning in North Philadelphia, and his employer and a rival towing company blamed each other.

Two tow trucks responded to a car accident about 10:30 a.m. at Whitaker and Hunting Park Avenues, police said. There was a dispute, and one of the drivers was shot in a leg.

The two companies that responded were Mystical Towing and J & Son's Towing & Recovery, both companies confirmed.

The driver who was shot was Angel Carrera, 36, who works for Mystical, the company confirmed.

Police initially said that one tow-truck driver had shot the other, but employees from both companies said Carrera was shot by a man who arrived at the scene of the accident driving a black Cadillac Escalade.

A Mystical representative, who did not want to be identified, said that the driver of the Escalade was connected to J & Son's and that he was trying to force Carrera to leave. "We've had run-ins with them before," the representative said.

A man who identified himself as Michael at J & Son's said he did not know who was driving the Escalade, but then suggested that the Escalade driver had shot the Mystical driver in "self-defense."

"We have no feud with Mystical," Michael said.

Police said the injured driver got into his truck and drove to the nearby 24th/25th Police District headquarters at 3901 Whitaker Ave.

Officers then drove Carrera to Temple University Hospital, where he was listed in stable condition.



Friday, July 16, 2010

Everyday WI Tow Heroes!

Round of applause to tow truck drivers Keith Leathers and Jeremy Dorsey (it was his first day on the job, too!), employees of Bill's Towing in Baraboo, WI, for rescuing an elderly woman!

Here's the story from the Baraboo News Republic:

The quick actions of two towers might have saved the life of a woman who became stranded during flooding Wednesday night.

Keith Leathers, an employee of Bill's Towing of Baraboo, says his company received a call from an elderly woman whose car became stalled on a creek bridge near the intersection of Mirror Lake Road and Pleasant Valley Road.

The water was rushing over the bridge by the time the towers arrived and they had to remove a tree from the road in order to park nearby.

"The lady was sitting in the car with an oxygen tank and she was out of oxygen," Leathers said. "She said the car was already moving with the water and I was concerned the bridge was going to give out."

Tower Jeremy Dorsey, who was in his first day on the job, waded through 1½ to 2 feet of water to get to the car, Leathers said, and clamped a hitch to the vehicle.

Dorsey then got in the car with the woman to calm her down and steer the vehicle as it was pulled from the bridge.


PA Towing Bill Looks to Give Car Owners More Rights

Here's the story from the York Daily Record:
The Rev. Patrick Rooney doesn't frequently get involved in politics, but this time it's personal.

The pastor of Christ Lutheran Church in York has been paying special attention to a bill before the state Senate that would limit how and when towing companies could haul cars to their lots.

Rooney started researching the bill after Good Friday, when several cars belonging to church worshippers were towed from the parking lot of an adjoining Wachovia Bank. For many years, the worshippers at the South George Street church had parked in the lot, but -- unbeknownst to most churchgoers -- the new building management revoked that policy.

The bill, which passed in the state House and is now before the Senate, wouldn't have prevented the cars from being hauled away that evening, but it would have made the process a lot more transparent, Rooney said.

If the bill becomes law, towing companies would be responsible for contacting the owners of towed cars within 24 hours to provide the address and phone number of the location where the car is being held. That didn't happen in the church's case, Rooney said. The owners of the cars that were towed -- many of which belonged to the disabled and elderly -- weren't called, he said.

"Some of our elderly and handicapped folks stayed away," he said. "We organized valet services, greeted them at the door and parked their car for them, but it still had an effect upon us. Some folks who have been worshipping here for decades felt put
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off."

The proposed legislation would also limit a practice known as predatory towing -- when towing companies remove vehicles with no notice and don't properly disclose fees.

If the bill passes, towing companies would be required to provide access to cars on their lots during business hours, would have to disclose all fees prior to towing a vehicle if the owner was present and would have to allow a vehicle to leave during business hours if it was paid for.

State Rep. Eugene DePasquale, D-West Manchester Township, said predatory towing problems are among the top four complaints received by his office. People parking in the city should have the ability to know where their cars are and how to get them back, DePasquale said. DePasquale, a member of the church, said the complaints are what led him to vote for the bill in March.

"It creates an environment where people outside the city are afraid to park inside the city," he said. "It hurts economic development, it hurts commerce and it hurts (the city's) reputation."

But legislators also have to be careful to maintain a balance between encouraging people to come downtown and allowing businesses to maintain their private property, said Tom Donley, York County Chamber of Commerce president. The chamber has not yet considered a position on the bill, but it will if it looks likely it will pass, Donley said.

Sometimes property owners who deal with the public only during regular business hours don't think of taking a more flexible approach, Donley said.

"It's just simpler to say 'OK, I'm going to hire a towing agency and if someone parks on the lot, tow them,'" he said. "I'm not sure they look at the bigger picture, that this could have a negative impact on their property values."

Legislators have until November to vote on the bill this session. If it doesn't pass, Donley suggested handling the issue on a county level.

"It's not always fun to wait for a state law," he said. "You'd like to start to deal with it locally."

Update

After several months of negotiations, Christ Lutheran Church reached an agreement with the owners of the adjacent Wachovia Bank parking lot last week, the Rev. Patrick Rooney said. Church worshippers will be permitted to use the lot from 7:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sundays, he said.

All church services will be covered by the agreement, but parking during other events held at the church will have to be negotiated on a case-by-case basis, he said.

The bill

Here is what the bill proposes:

--- Fees for towing, storage and other services as well as hours of operation, phone number must be on all contracts and posted at the storage facility.

--- An owner must be informed of the towing company's address, phone number and fees before towing. If the owner is not present, it must be provided by the company when contacted by owner. Towing companies must inform owners that their vehicle has been towed within 24 hours.

--- Towing companies can tow from the scene of an accident only if summoned by the owner or police.

--- Operators must release vehicles during hours of operation as long as they have been paid for. Owners must be permitted to inspect their vehicles during those hours, and storage fees cannot be charged for any period during which the owner was not allowed to inspect the vehicle.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

PWOF Helps Heavy-Duty Wrecker Operators Get Relief When Towing Overweight Trucks


Here's the press release:
The Professional Wreckers of Florida (PWOF) has announced new heavy-duty wrecker overweight permits for Florida intrastate travel.

PWOF executive director Mike Seamon stated that PWOF worked with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to develop one of the best overweight permit programs in the country. Heavy-duty tow operators in Florida will now be able purchase a $360 annual permit that will allow them to legally tow overweight trucks. Permit information can be found at www.fdotmaint.com/PermitNew/home.asp.

PWOF and FDOT agreed upon routes that the permitted heavier loads can use. The routes are highlighted on two maps that are viewable on www3.dot.state.fl.us/OversizedVehiclePermitsGISpublic/MapPagePublic.aspx. Dispatchers can use the maps to efficiently plan the tow, relieving the driver of having to read printed maps.

PWOF President Drew Zuccala thanked the members of PWOF who committed time and energy to developing this program. “This beneficial program is a result of a great relationship between PWOF and FDOT and we thank FDOT for their support,” Zuccala said.

About the PWOF:
Located in Orlando, Florida, the Professional Wrecker Operators of Florida was founded in 1977 and proudly represents Florida towing company owners and operators. Visit www.pwof.org.

OR Brothers Collide Head-On In Deadly Crash

Here's the story from KGW-TV:
HOOD RIVER, Ore. -- Two brothers driving in separate vehicles in opposite directions along Highway 25 crashed Tuesday night in a deadly accident.

One of the brothers wives died after the crash and both men were injured.

Police said John Harvey II, 25, of Government Camp, was driving his tow truck southbound on Highway 35, about fourteen miles south of Hood River, when it collided head-on with an oncoming car driven by his brother, Westun Harvey, 20, of Hood River.

Westuns wife, Rosario Harvey, 28, died at the scene, according to Lieutenant Pat Ashmore with Oregon State Police.

Westun was flown in a LifeFlight helicopter to Oregon Health and Science University with critical injuries and John was transported to Hood River Providence Hospital for a medical evaluation, Ashmore said.

Investigators have not said whether they believe the two men even knew the oncoming driver was their brother but both vehicles had apparently veered out of their appropriate lane of travel.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sad News From OK

Our condolences to the family and acquaintances of 16-year-old Troy Don Kimbley of Okmulgee, OK, who died on Sunday, July 11, after he failed to negotiate a curve in his 1991 International rollback wrecker. The rollback with the vehicle Kimbley was towing rolled 2.5 times. He was pronounced dead at the scene. His passenger survived and was treated for minor injuries.

Read the full story from www.tulsaworld.com here.

Jerr-Dan Move To Cost 100 Jobs In Greencastle, PA

Here's the story from www.echo-pilot.com:
By PAT FRIDGEN
Echo Pilot
Posted Jul 13, 2010 @ 07:50 PM
Last update Jul 14, 2010 @ 10:50 AM

The workforce in Greencastle was dealt a blow Tuesday afternoon as Oshkosh Corporation confirmed to the Echo Pilot that Jerr-Dan operations there will cease in October. The company with facilities on Hykes Road and Molly Pitcher Highway, which was acquired by Oshkosh in 2004, will shift manufacturing and assembly to JLG Industries in McConnellsburg and Shippensburg. An estimated 100 jobs will be lost out of the 250 on the current roster.
John Daggett, Director of Communications, said merging some parts of its two companies would maximize facilities and manufacturing while reducing costs.
"We are meeting with salaried and production employees this week to explain how they'll be impacted," Daggett said. "Some will be able to transfer to JLG if they want to. We have to give them time to digest this and determine what they want to do."
The corporation will also offer employment counseling to help with the transition of those who have to find other jobs.
The merge of Jerr-Dan and JLG will put both into the Access Equipment segment of Oshkosh. Jerr-Dan makes towing and recovery vehicles and had been in the Fire and Emergency segment. JLG makes aerial work platforms and telescopic material handlers. It will become the contract manufacturer of Jerr-Dan's light, medium and heavy duty carriers and wreckers and rotator tow vehicles. The manufacturing changeover will occur on Oct. 3. The following day operations will restart at JLG.
Daggett emphasized that Jerr-Dan will continue to be a separate business entity. The front office will relocate to the JLG Fountainhead office in Hagerstown, Md. where customer service, sales, operations, accounting, marketing, human resources and engineering will be handled.

Disappointed

Mike Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Corporation, expressed extreme disappointment in the announcement.
"We understand the decision is a strategic corporate decision, but the loss of employees in Greencastle is significant and will have a significant impact. We'll have to work on a recovery strategy."
He added that Jerr-Dan had received great support from the local community, Franklin County, and beyond.
"It was conceived and raised in Greencastle and now it's going elsewhere," said Ross. "I'm also disappointed in the Oshkosh decision to put the administrative office in Maryland. They got tremendous support from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and by that I mean millions of dollars. This really hurts Greencastle."
Daggett defended the move. "Companies have to look at 'Where do we have the most capacity?' Smart companies utilize the capacity of sister companies."

VA Tower Wins Safety Award From Governor


Round of applause to Kevin Jones, owner of Bee Line Towing of Lynchburg, VA! He's been chosen as a recipient of the 2010 Governor's Transportation Safety Award!

Here's the story from www.wset.com:
Lynchburg, VA - A Lynchburg man is getting ready to visit the Governor's Mansion Wednesday.

Kevin Jones will be picking up the 2010 Governor's Transportation Safety Award.

He's the owner of Bee Line Towing, and for several years he's donated cars to local law enforcement agencies. They are used for crash reconstruction classes.

"We've got the cars and they've got very limited budgets right now so its a huge deal to be able to give them a car that runs and drives and let them crash into it,” Jones said.

Jones says he plans to attend with his wife and another Lynchburg area winner, Sergeant Kassi Allen with the Liberty University (web) Police Department.

She has helped educate students and the community about rail safety.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Bridgestone Bandag Tire Solutions' July 1 Price Increase

Here's some info from the press release:
Bridgestone Truck and Bus Radial Tires Affected
Bridgestone Bandag Tire Solutions (BBTS), a division of Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, has increased prices on its Bridgestone brand products. Effective July 1, 2010, Bridgestone brand truck and bus radial tire base prices increased up to six percent in the United States.

“Bridgestone Bandag Tire Solutions continues to look for ways to balance costs and continue to deliver a premium package of value to our dealer and fleet customers. Today, however, we have reached a point where we must pass along some of the increased costs that are outside of our control including energy, fuel and raw materials,” says Kurt Danielson, Vice President, Sales and Marketing, BBTS.

About Bridgestone Bandag Tire Solutions:
Bridgestone Bandag Tire Solutions (BBTS), a division of Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, LLC, manufactures, markets and sells medium and heavy duty truck tires for the original equipment and replacement markets in the United States and in Canada through Bridgestone Canada Inc. Bridgestone, Firestone and Dayton brand truck tires are available through more than 2,500 dealers and truck stops across the U.S. and Canada. In addition, through its Bandag brand, Bandag retreading dealers have access to industry-leading research and development, manufacturing, marketing and sales expertise. This combination of new and retread product offering provides trucking customers with total tire solutions.

"Fuel Efficiency For The Professional Driver" Training Now Available

Here is some info from the press release:
Vertical Alliance Group, Inc. (www.verticalag.com) an online safety training and consultation service for the truck and transportation industries,has introduced a new training series. "Fuel Efficiency For the Professional Driver" is a series of short, pointed, reminder videos, designed to keep drivers, dispatchers and maintenance personnel mindful of techniques and practices
they can all employ that will result in increased fuel economy.

"Fuel Efficiency for the Professional Driver was developed in conjunction with industry experts...but the secret to success for our clients has been the REAL, down-to-earth method with which we communicate to drivers...this is not your typical, corporate,
'ivory tower' approach.", says Jay Wommack, President and CEO of VAG. Clients utilizing our Infinit-iTM solution to train drivers and other staff around fuel saving techniques with our existing materials are already posting some impressive Miles Per Gallon improvements with this series that specifically
targets fuel economy, and concerned companies can also take their fuel savings to the next level."

The staff at VAG has simplified the process and worked out all of the details so companies can be running the fuel program in less than 48 hours.

For more information, call Teresa Hindsman, VAG Client Service Director, at 903-792-3866 ext 103, or e-mail to thindsman@verticalag.com.

TowXchange & US Fleet Tracking Partnership


Here's info from the press release:
TowXchange recently incorporated US Fleet Tracking’s GPS tracking products and technology into its software packages. This partnership allows TowXchange to offer its clients through its TOPS software a real-time tracking and reporting tool, which integrates with the TOPS dispatch module. TowXchange now offers its clients the benefit of knowing exactly where each tow truck is located, making dispatching simpler. This in turn improves on response times and decreases business costs, such as fuel and personnel time.

“Giving our clients the ability to know exactly where their trucks are located combined with visual icons for each towing dispatch job allows towing operators to visually dispatch,” said Jeff Pesnell of TowXchange. “They’re able to reach people in need much faster and eliminate unnecessary travel.”

Time and cost saving benefits may spark the interest of the average client, but US Fleet Tracking’s newest development of incorporating a weather overlay allows operators to keep their people in the field safe. Launched in June 2010 the weather overlay gives users the most up-to-date radar and cloud cover images as they relate to the real-time position of its vehicles. Dispatchers now have the ability to divert drivers that may be headed into treacherous weather conditions as well as guide them out of these situations.

“Knowing our customers can improve their business and cut cost while keeping their employees safe is such a comfort in a sometimes volatile business environment,” said Pesnell. “It’s a natural fit for TowXchange and US Fleet Tracking to bring our clients these unique services.”

US Fleet Tracking CEO and founder Jerry Hunter is the original developer of the company’s GPS tracking web-based platform. With US Fleet Tracking selected as the vehicle tracking product of choice at the past four Super Bowls, the 2010 Winter Olympics and countless other venues, Hunter’s devices have established a reputation as one of the fastest and most reliable in the industry.

“As far as tracking devices go, US Fleet Tracking has the best on the market,” said Pesnell. “Their products are highly functional, easy to use and are very affordable for any business trying to stay a step ahead of their competitors, manage operating costs and attract new customers.”

US Fleet Tracking, located in Oklahoma City , is the leader in real-time asset and vehicle tracking, providing industry-leading sub-ten-second service. In addition to its experience tracking commercial vehicles, the company has provided tracking to countless large-scale public venues including Super Bowls XLI, XLII, XLIII and XLIV, the 2010 Pro Bowl, and the 2010 Winter Olympics. For more information on US Fleet Tracking , visit http://www.usfleettracking.com and access a live demonstration with actual moving vehicles.

TowXchange is a provider of towing management software for the towing and recovery, transportation, municipal and law enforcement markets. They offer products and services to meet the needs of full-featured dispatch management systems, mobile data services, motor club digital dispatching, public safety systems and custom integration services. Its products and services together create a powerful tool to help better manage any vehicle towing operation. For more information on TowXchange, visit http://www.towxchange.net.

New Automotive Book Shop Open In WI





GUNNER's GREAT GARAGE in Manawa , WI, has opened a new book shop that will specialize in selling both new and used automotive books, literature, press kits, posters and other paper collectibles, as well as toy and model cars.

For July and August, the new book shop will highlight hot rod books in honor of the Symco Shakedown - a traditional hot rod show that will take place in nearby Symco on August 13 and 14. The featured books will include Anatomy of the Hot Rod by Doug Mitchel, Old School Hot Rods by Alan Mayes, Building Street Rods: All You Need to Know by Ken Wickham and Great American Hot Rods. Auto Trader Kustom & Rod will be the shop's featured car magazine.

For more information contact Gunner's Great Garage at E6110 Fuhs Rd. , Manawa , WI 54949 or call (920) 596-2273.

Check out the Gunner's Garage blog at
www.oldcarsweekly.com.

Farewell, Friend

Our condolences to the family and acquaintances of 69-year-old John Barry Roche, who owned Roche's Towing in International Falls, MN. He passed away on July 10.

Here's his obituary from The Journal:

John Barry Roche, 69, of International Falls, died Saturday, July 10, 2010, at Rainy Lake Medical Center.

John was born June 9, 1941, in International Falls. He was a lifelong resident of the Falls and graduated with the Class of 1959.

He married the former Mary Lee Weum on July 8, 1961, in Littlefork, Minn.


He worked for Tollefsrud’s Builders and did construction work before starting Roche Oil Co. in 1969. After selling the oil company in 1997, he started Six R’S d.b.a. Roche’s Towing, which the family is still running.

John, who was known to many as the world’s best wrecker driver, and to his great-grandchildren as Double G John and Fishing Grandpa, loved spending time with his family and attending the many activities and sporting events that they were involved in. John was a practical joker and loved having fun. He enjoyed fishing, car racing, playing cards, traveling, and snowmobiling.

John was also community minded and was active in the Lions Club, serving as president and secretary in the past. He was also awarded the Melvin Jones Leadership Award by the Lions. He and his family were active with the MS Society and participated in several MS Walks and fundraisers. He was a senior volunteer driver and was a member of St. Thomas Catholic Church.

He was preceded in death by his parents, John Joseph and Mary (Waldbillig) Roche; sister, Colleen Gray; stepfather, Charlie Stuart; his uncle, Ed Waldbillig who helped raise John; and stepsister, Shirley Larocke.

John is survived by his wife, Mary; daughter, Tammy (Wayne) Roche of Minneapolis; son, John K. (fiancĂ©e Jill) of the Falls; daughter, Dr. Brenda “Binkie” (John A.) Roche of Billings, Mont.; son, Rick (Gina) Roche of the Falls; 13 grandchildren and 11 1⁄2 great-grandchildren; brother, Kevin (Karen) Roche of Virginia, Minn.; sister, Kathy (Gary) Bergmann of Golf Port, Ala.; stepbrother, Alan (Donnas) Stuart; mother-in-law, Christine Weum; brothers-in-law, David (Judy) Weum, Leroy Weum and Chuck (Helen) Bly; and sister-in-law, JoAnn (Floyd) Gustafson.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

FL Man Claiming To Be Marine Accused Of Punching Tow Truck Driver Over $5

Sad...
Here's the story from Naples.com:
A Naples man claiming to be a Marine is accused of breaking a tow truck driver's jaw after an incident involving another man's car being towed because it was broken down on a highway in Bonita Springs.

Kyle Joseph Poorman, 27, of the 2900 block of West Crowne Point Road, was charged with felony battery in the early Sunday morning incident. Bond was denied.

According to Lee County Sheriff's Office reports:

Brian Buckler, 42, a tow truck driver for G&C Towing, was dispatched to tow a car from U.S. 41 South and River Homes Boulevard. Buckler met the owner, Oscar Lopez-Morales, 22, and Poorman. Buckler and Lopez-Morales agreed the disabled car would be towed to the Kmart parking lot for $55. Lopez-Morales had no cash, so Poorman went to an ATM and gave Butler $60, requesting the $5 difference. Butler told the men he didn't have change and asked them to go to a gasoline station to get it.

Poorman began to get confrontational and said: "There's going to be owing nothing," and showed Buckler his Marine Corps dog tags and said: "You just disrespected a United States Marine." Butler was struck in his face several times, and ran toward the gas station, asking the clerk to call 911. Medics confirmed Buckler's jaw was broken and his employer took him to the hospital.

Poorman told deputies: "He disrespected me, so I beat him. I'm a United States Marine." When asked if he wanted to tell his side, he replied "(expletive) you, I want a lawyer."

Lopez-Morales gave a similar story as the tow truck driver.

After Poorman was arrested and deputies completed the report, Poorman made spontaneous utterances such as "he disrespected me, so I punched him," and "I will get off on this anyways."

It was not clear from the report if Poorman is a Marine.

Good Deed Of The Day In OH

Kudos to the employees of Sorice Towing of Girard, OH, who lent a hand to this couple!
Here's the story from the Youngstown News:
YOUNGSTOWN

The daughter of a couple — Bryan and Dorothy Treible of Pierceton, Ind. — who suffered serious injuries in a May 25 car accident says she and her parents are overwhelmed by the hospitality and generosity given by those in the Mahoning Valley.

“We don’t know anyone from the Youngstown area, but you took my parents and made them two of your own,” Wendy Parker, daughter of the Treibles, told The Vindicator from her home in San Antonio, Texas, on Friday.

The Better Business Bureau of Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties and Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams on Friday honored some of the people who helped the Treibles after the crash.

“It is great when people do things as wonderful as this,” said Patricia B. Rose, president of the local BBB.

The Treibles were on Interstate 80 in Liberty on their way to New York from Indiana when Bryan, 70, the driver, lost control of his pickup truck when he changed lanes and a camping trailer it was towing swayed. The trailer separated from the truck, and the truck went off the road, hit a guardrail and overturned in an embankment.

Bryan suffered four broken ribs and many lacerations.

His wife, Dorothy, 71, had severe injuries to her arm and neck as well as numerous cuts.

First on the scene was Brad Cunningham, a registered nurse, who called 911 and provided assistance to the couple before an ambulance arrived.

“I did what I’d want done for me in that situation,” he said. “I knew they needed help pretty badly. I’m thankful that Mr. and Mrs. Treible are fine and they’re on the road to recovery.”

Baker called Cunningham “an angel to my mom and dad. I believe my mom would have bled to death” without his help.

Also, employees with Sorice Towing of Girard went back to the accident scene to recover the couple’s belongings including their cell phone, credit cards and pictures.

Employees at the Lens- Crafters in Boardman provided new prescription glasses for Dorothy free, and workers at St. Elizabeth Health Center went out of their way to help the couple, Baker said.

“It’s a miracle they’re alive, and it’s because of the generosity of the people in the Youngstown area,” she said.

Baker’s father is recovering at home, and her mother will be released July 13 from a physical-rehabilitation facility.

Friday, July 9, 2010

NC Bill Setting Rules For Towing Companies Goes To Governor

Here's the story from the Fayetteville Observer:

RALEIGH - Drivers who feel victimized by tow truck drivers would gain new legal protections and authority to recover their cars under a bill that the N.C. Senate approved Thursday.

The bill moves to the governor for her signature.

The new law was sponsored by Sen. Bob Rucho of Mecklenburg County because one of his constituents had difficulty finding his car after he illegally parked it in a private parking lot. The man's car was towed to a storage lot 40 miles away, Rucho said, and it took him about a day to find it.

Rucho's bill says that the car may not be towed more than 15 miles (unless the nearest lot is further away, in which case the maximum distance is 25 miles).

The bill also:

Requires the name and phone number of the towing and storage company be published on a sign warning drivers not to illegally park in a private lot.

Bans towing and storage companies from forcing a driver to sign away his right to sue before he can get his car back.

The law would apply in 13 counties, including Cumberland and Robeson counties, and all municipalities in those counties, plus Durham and Jacksonville.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Miller Industries Receives AAA Honor


Pictured from left to right: Dawn Dobosh, Preferred Supplier Programs Manager; Clay Traylor, Miller Industries Vice President of Northeast Regional Sales; Randy Olson, Miller Industries Vice President of Marketing; and Marshall L. Doney, AAA Automotive Vice President.

Here's the press release:
Miller Industries, the world leader in towing and recovery equipment, is proud to announce that they received AAA's Five-Year Dedicated Automotive Preferred Supplier Award at the recent AAA/CAA Automotive Conference held in Orlando, Florida.

"I'm pleased to present this award to Miller Industries for their strong brand and dedication to providing value and quality equipment to AAA/CAA fleets and contractors," stated Vice President of AAA Automotive Marshall L. Doney, who was on hand to present the award to Miller Industries Vice President of Marketing Randy Olson. "I also want to congratulate Miller
Industries on their 20-year anniversary."

For more information about Miller Industries, visit our website at www.millerind.com

50/50 FREE Shipping Offer From Pierce Sales!

Check it out at www.piercesales.com! Here's the release:
Pierce Sales, retailer of towing equipment and accessories, launched a promotion to benefit retail customers when purchasing items over $50 and under 50 pounds.

“We want to deliver,” says Pierce Sales operations manager Wade Pierce. “We want to give back to our customers who have made Pierce Sales successful.”

Customer can purchase accessories and Lodar under the 50/50 promotion if the package is sent within the U.S. Pierce Sales will pick the most economical shipping method for those who qualify for 50/50 free shipping.

Pierce Sales distributes recovery equipment, accessories and winches internationally. Since 1976 we have provided quality, dependable products at an affordable price. Located in Henrietta, Texas Pierce Sales carries B/A, Dynamic, Lodar, Minute Man, Monarch and Pierce Arrow products. Visit www.piercesales.com for more information.


Car vs Tow Truck Accident In IN

Here's the 14 News story:

EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - A two vehicle accident sends a tow truck flying into North High School.

The accident occurred just after 6 p.m. on Wednesday.

Evansville police say the tow truck was headed westbound on Diamond Avenue. We're told the driver passed out, crossed over the median, struck a silver car and the power pole, then was thrown into the entry way of North High School.

Police say the drivers of both vehicles were transported to a local hospital to be treated minor injuries.

No one was at the school at the time of the incident.

A New Business App That Could Help Towers On The Go

Here's the story from the examiner.com:

Already a number of smartphone applications enable consumers to use their phones to make purchases, charging them to their debit or credit cards. Today AT&T introduced a new service to merchants that turns their smartphones into payment terminals.

AT&T introduced the AprivaPay and AprivaPay Professional services to its business customers. The service is provided by Apriva, a company that serves the wireless payment industry. AT&T is the first U.S. wireless carrier to offer the Apriva system.

The way it works, a mobile merchant -- think floral delivery, a plumbing contractor, a tow truck driver -- who does their work in the field can use their smartphone as their point-of-sale terminal, processing credit or debit card transactions without the need to carry another device around for processing payments.

AprivaPay works on any smartphone using AT&T service for $14.95 a month. It works through the phone’s web browser. AprivaPay Professional is installed to run directly on the phone, but is only for smartphones running the Windows Mobile Standard and Professional OSes for $19.95 a month. Either service requires a separate merchant agreement with AT&T.

The worldwide mobile payments market is expected to grow from $68 billion in 2009 to more than $600 billion by 2014, AT&T said, citing a forecast from Generator Research, an independent market research firm. That is fast.

"Sales increase when small businesses accept payment cards," said Michael Antieri, president of advanced enterprise mobility solutions at AT&T Business Solutions, in a prepared statement.

And since many mobile merchants likely carry a smartphone on them for other business operations, this is another use to which they can be put.

Here’s a video demo of how Apriva Pay works.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

MI Towing Battle Spurs Legislation

Here's the continuing story from the Detroit Free Press:
A legal brawl between a Kalamazoo college student and a towing company has caught the attention of a Michigan lawmaker who wants to amend pending legislation to protect consumers from so-called SLAPP lawsuits.

SLAPP suits -- Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation -- are retaliatory legal actions designed to silence, intimidate or punish those who have used public forums to exhort government into action.

"If I want to protest what a store is doing in my neighborhood, I have every right to do that within the confines of the law and free speech," said state Rep. Kate Ebli, D-Monroe. "For the company to slap a lawsuit on me with an army of lawyers is unfair."

Ebli said she wants to amend a pending measure, House Bill 5036, which would allow consumers to ask judges to dismiss such lawsuits if they can prove they were designed to harass and intimidate them for speaking out about unfair business practices. The initial bill was reported out of the House Judiciary Committee by a 10-0 vote in March.

Ebli had it called back so she can tweak the bill with the help of the Michigan Association for Justice, the state trial lawyers group and others. Her changes would extend the protection to people who speak out on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

She said the Judiciary Committee is to take up the measure July 21.

The changes were prompted by a $750,000 libel lawsuit T&J towing filed earlier this year against Western Michigan University student Justin Kurtz, who started a Facebook page to protest the towing of his car in January from his apartment complex.

Kurtz says the company removed his parking sticker from his window to justify the tow. His Facebook page created an Internet sensation and attracted more than 14,000 friends -- many of whom say they, too, were victimized by the company.

Kurtz said he is happy the Legislature is considering the bill: "It's a great idea. People should be protected from lawsuits like the one filed against me."

The Better Business Bureau of Western Michigan gives T&J an F-rating because of a large number of complaints and its failure to respond.

The towing company's lawyer, Richard Burnham of Paw Paw, said the proposal is a bad idea.

"I'm really disappointed to hear about such a knee-jerk response," Burnham said. "She doesn't even understand who the wrongdoer here actually is," he said of Ebli.

Burnham said the towing company has lost more than 50% of its customers since Kurtz created the Facebook page.

Ebli said she plans to invite Kurtz and his lawyer, Dani Liblang of Birmingham, to testify about the amendment at the Judiciary Committee hearing.

2010 WTRAA Scholarship Winners Announced


Congratulations to the four recently-selected recipients of Women of the Towing and Recovery Association (WTRAA)Scholarships!

The Committee reviewed twelve applications and made determinations based on grade point average, community service, scholastic achievements, and personal statements.

Alexandra Bryant of Franklin, VA
$500 Virginia Tech

Stephanie Siewert of Red Wing, MN
$500 Concordia College Moorhead

Kristen Robbins of Greensburg, IN
$500 University of Indianapolis

Natalie Kirkman of Greensboro, NC
$500 NC State University

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tow Truck Drivers In Toowoomba, Queensland Want Fairer Deal

Tow truck drivers (from left) Justin Hinselwood, Kim O’Mara and Steve Wilson would like to see the introduction of a ‘crash roster system’ to regulate the industry in Toowoomba.
Here's the story from The Chronicle:

TOW truck drivers are being bashed and abused on Toowoomba's streets in a cut-throat industry they say needs to be more strictly regulated.

Managers from two of the city's biggest tow truck companies have called for more government regulation and the introduction of a roster system for tow jobs from car crashes.

Currently, drivers compete with each other at crash scenes for the right to tow damaged cars.

Kim O'Mara from 1300Towing said it was a scenario that often led to conflict.

Mr O'Mara said many of his drivers were hesitant to attend accidents at night for fear they would be assaulted.

He has even provided his drivers with compact body-worn video cameras to record conflict situations.

Steve Wilson from Wilson's Towing, which was started by his father Robert in Toowoomba in 1979, said he had personally been assaulted by other tow truck drivers at crash scenes.

“I have been punched and pushed — there is always verbal harassment,” Mr Wilson said.

“There have been threats to burn drivers' houses down.”

Both Mr Wilson and Mr O'Mara believe a rostering system for crash scenes would be effective to reduce the tension between tow truck drivers who are forced to compete for business in the chaotic situations.

Mr Wilson said Toowoomba police had an effective roster system up until the early 1990s, however, it was more of a “gentlemen's agreement”. But in contrast to the strong opinions held by Mr Wilson and Mr O'Mara, Sowerby's Towing manager Warren Iacono said the picture had been blown out of proportion.

Mr Iacono argued that a roster system would take away from the customer's ability to make their own choice at accidents.

This was refuted by Mr Wilson, who said the customer would first be given a choice of company and if they did not have a preferred towing company the job allocation would revert to the roster.

“The only reason they would want a roster system is because they're not the towing contractor for RACQ or NRMA in Toowoomba,” Mr Iacono said.