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TowNews

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  1. A tow truck driver was killed Saturday after being hit by a drunk driver in Cypress, police said. The Harris County Sheriff's Office said that the victim was putting a boat into the back of his flatbed on Grand Parkway near Bridgeland Creek Parkway around midnight when a man in a Toyota veered off the road and hit the flatbed. The driver of the car was hospitalized with minor injuries, police said. He faces manslaughter charges. The identities of the victim and the driver were not immediately available. RESOURCE LINK
  2. A 66-year-old woman died after a car crash in Yuma late Friday night, police said. Around 10:30 p.m., a 2016 Freightliner 16M Rollback tow truck, driven by a 28-year-old, rear ended a 2006 Nissan Sentra, occupied by a 70-year-old man and the 66-year-old woman. The woman died at the scene, Yuma police Sgt. Lori Franklin said. The man was taken to the hospital in critical condition. The tow truck driver, Christopher Peirce, had a blood alcohol content higher than .20. The legal limit is less than .08. RESOURCE LINK
  3. Tow trucks from miles around responded to the scene of a one-car crash Thursday on Interstate 190 in Buffalo, New York — because the car that needed rescuing was the Batmobile. The iconic car, known as "Buffalo's Batmobile," was headed toward the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center for this weekend's Nickel City Con when .... BAM! POW! A metal fitting on the radiator hose broke. Antifreeze spewed onto the hot engine, and a cloud of white steam thicker than a winter whiteout enveloped the car. Robin, not in costume, was driving. Chris Podosek of TV and Movie Cars For Hire, which owns the car, was following behind in a taller, heavier Chevy pickup and suddenly lost sight of the Batmobile, a wide, low-to-the-ground ride made of Fiberglass. "When I hit the smoke, I didn’t know what it was at first," Podosek told The Kansas City Star. "It was like a scene in the movies where they hit the smokescreen. I couldn’t see anything. "My first reaction was, 'He’s right in front of me, I’m going to hit him with the truck.'" He slammed on the brakes, and when he made it through the smoke he could see the Batmobile to his right, spinning out of control on the road slick with antifreeze. The car slammed into the guardrail. Podosek whipped the truck over to the shoulder and ran toward the Batmobile, driven by his business partner, Jett Yaskow, aka Robin. They rent out cars from famous TV shows and movies. They also own a General Lee from "The Dukes of Hazzard," a "Starsky & Hutch" Gran Torino and a "Knight Rider" KITT. Yaskow, a Buffalo firefighter, was already running away from the Batmobile. "It put steam everywhere, and I couldn't see where I was driving," he told the Buffalo News. Podosek called 911. When the dispatcher asked what kind of car was involved in the accident, he said, "a 1966 Batmobile." Silence. "Really?" When the dispatcher put out the call for help, it sounded like this: "You're not got going to believe this, but I need a flatbed for a Batmobile." It seemed to Podosek that every tow truck in Buffalo showed up. "All I wanted to do was to get the car off the highway," he said. The sight of the injured Batmobile made the evening news, incited jokes on Twitter and inspired dozens of obligatory "Holy Car Wreck, Batman!" exclamations. People cried, too. The car, which Podosek and Yaskow have owned for four years, is a familiar and popular attraction at local fundraising and community events. People yell and scream at it at red lights. The organizers of this weekend's comic convention want the owners to come to the show anyway because people will have questions about what happened and want to commiserate. The organizers have talked of having a grand parade with a police escort when the car comes back next year, Podosek said. "It’s a fun car to drive, but you have to be on alert, because people will lean out of their windows on the highway driving 60 miles an hour to take pictures of it," he said. Because Yaskow walked away with nothing more than a bump on his head. the guys can laugh about it. They had just taken the car out for the first time this season two weeks ago. They don't drive it during Buffalo's notoriously snowy winters. "On the way to the NICKLE CITY CON The Joker cut us off and sent us into the guardrail!" the guys wrote on the company's Facebook page.. "We (the Dynamic Duo) are ok. Robin is a little banged up, but he'll be alright! "The Batmobile is heading back to the Batcave for extensive repairs. Alfred sure has his work cut out for him!" Photos show it sustained extensive bumper damage and scratches on the driver's side of the car. Podosek has no idea how long repairs will take. "You can't just take it to any body shop," he said. In 2015 Forbes ranked all the Batmobiles used in films, and this one driven by Adam West in the TV show and its film adaptation came in second only to Michael Keaton's cinema Batmobiles. "The Batmobile driven by Adam West in the 1966 Batman movie is truly a thing of beauty, with great coloring and a general, um, car-like appearance," Forbes wrote. "It's also decked out with great pun-tastic gadgets like the 'Bat-tering Ram' (and slightly less pun-tastic gadgets like the 'Emergency Tire Inflator.'" Buffalo's Batmobile, though, lacks one of those gadgets that could have come in handy on Thursday. “There’s no parachutes on it like on TV," Podosek said. "If there had been parachutes on yesterday it would have stopped better.” http://www.kansascity.com/entertainment/article211408929.html
  4. CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – Erlanger says they are grateful for the two new additions to the new Erlanger Children’s Hospital Bruce Komiski, the Project Executive, says “For much of your life you’re coming in and out of a sterile, scary frightening hospital and one of our goals was to totally change the perspective of what it’s like to come to the hospital.” Some children leave the hospital at birth only to return for various reasons and Erlanger is hoping to make their stay a little more enjoyable. CJ, who’s dad restored an old tow truck for the project, told News 12 that his “dad made it he has a remote control for the lights.” Lights that CJ believes will be really “cool” for the kids. Jeremy Tankersley, who restored an old tow truck, “Just to be able to help out and put in the hospital and hopefully it will put some smiles on some kids faces.” Tankersley says the restoration of this truck took 7 day work weeks. The tow truck, named Sally, was his grandfathers first truck when he opened Dodd Brothers in 1950. It is just one way they hope to keep smiles on the future patients. “You’ll pull up and there will be 1891 steam engine coming up to greet you, you’ll go up to a waiting room and see Sally the tow truck and you’ll go up to another room and you’ll see Engine 68,” says Tankersley. Engine 68 was donated from the Chattanooga Fire Department and everyone who helped today ALSO donated their services. To the community Erlanger says, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” RESOURCE LINK With Video
  5. A local tow truck driver accused of rear-ending a vehicle on Jonathan Moore Pike, causing a death, has been charged with three felonies after a blood test showed he was on methamphetamine when the collision occurred in January. Ruel P. Pedigo III, 49, of 1085 Jonesville Road, was arrested Thursday on a Bartholomew Circuit Court warrant on charges of: Causing a death while operating a motor vehicle with a controlled substance in the blood, a Level 4 felony, the most serious of the charges. Reckless homicide, a Level 5 felony Causing serious bodily injury when operating a motor vehicle with a controlled substance in the blood, a Level 6 felony. Pedigo posted $40,000 cash bond and was released from the Bartholomew County Jail on Thursday, jail officials said. The charges stem from a multi-vehicle accident at 7:40 p.m. Jan. 27 on Jonathan Moore Pike near Johnson Boulevard, court documents state. The accident occurred in the eastbound lanes and involved as many as six vehicles. Investigators said a Ford F650 tow truck with a vehicle on the flat-bed driven by Pedigo rear-ended a Mazda 3 passenger car, resulting in the death of the Mazda driver, Patrick N. Bowman, 35, of Brown County. Bowman was a native of Columbus and graduated from Columbus North High School in 2001. The crash also caused serious injuries to Bowman’s passenger, Sarah Fliehman, 25, of Brown County, who was later transferred to Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital for treatment of a head injury. She was later upgraded to good condition after the accident. A number of collisions occurred among vehicles in front of the Mazda after the two truck hit it, accident reconstructionists said. Eyewitnesses along Jonathan Moore Pike told investigators that the cars that collided were all stopped or slowing for the traffic light and that Pedigo’s tow truck did not appear to slow down prior to the accident, according to court documents. After the accident, Pedigo told investigators he had just exited I-65 South and was heading east on Jonathan Moore Pike in the tow truck in the far left non-turn lane, when an unidentified small black car changed from the left turn lane to Pedigo’s lane, court documents state. Pedigo told police he tried to brake, but slid, causing the accident, court documents state. Pedigo told police he was going about 25 to 30 mph when he collided with the Mazda, court documents state. Investigators obtained a search warrant to download the airbag diagnostic sensing module in the tow truck, court documents state. The data obtained showed Pedigo’s tow truck was traveling between 37 and 40 mph in the seconds leading up to the crash and that Pedigo did not apply the brakes until about 1 second prior to impact with Bowman’s Mazda, court documents state. Pedigo’s toxicology report showed he had methamphetamine and amphetamine, a metabolite of methamphetamine, in his blood when the accident occurred, court documents state. Pedigo consented to the blood test, which was taken about an hour after the accident at Columbus Regional Hospital. RESOURCE LINK
  6. FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A Florida police officer charged with killing a stranded black motorist should stand trial because it was his aggressive and reckless actions that created the altercation that ended with the man's death, prosecutors said it court documents filed Thursday. Prosecutors said Palm Beach Gardens officer Nouman Raja, who was fired after the killing, never identified himself to 31-year-old Corey Jones before shooting him. Raja was working in plainclothes and driving an unmarked white van when he drove the wrong way up a dark highway off-ramp and parked directly in front of Jones' broken down SUV. They say it was Raja's aggressive actions and words, including a "barrage of profanity," that caused Jones, who had a concealed weapons permit, to pull his own gun in self-defense nearly three years ago. Raja, 40 and of South Asian descent, then shot him multiple times. Raja "had no badge, no law enforcement insignia, no radio and absolutely no verbal approach that would allow any reasonable or unreasonable person to conclude he was an officer of the law," Palm Beach County Assistant State Attorney Brian Fernandes said in written closing arguments that followed a two-day hearing last week. "The only logical conclusion that a citizen such as Corey could reach...was that he was about to be the unfortunate victim of a violent crime. And that is exactly what happened." Raja's attorneys want the charges thrown out under Florida's "stand your ground" law, which gained national prominence in 2012 after neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman fatally shot black teenager Trayvon Martin. It says people have no obligation to retreat if threatened and can use deadly force if they believe it necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm. The law does not apply, however, when it's the instigator of the altercation using deadly force. Florida lawmakers flipped the burden of proof in such cases last year, requiring the state to prove that a "stand your ground" defense does not apply before someone invoking it can be tried. Prosecutors are trying to persuade Circuit Judge Samantha Schosberg Feuer that Raja should stand trial this summer on manslaughter and attempted murder charges for the death of Brown, a housing inspector and reggae band drummer who was returning home from a late-night performance when he was killed. Raja attorney Richard Lubin wrote in his closing argument released Wednesday that it would be "utterly lawless" to convict an officer based on anything other than his conduct "at the moment he decided to use force." Fernandes rejected that, saying such a reading would mean a police officer could never be charged with manslaughter by culpable negligence. That's defined as killing someone through actions that show a "conscious indifference to consequences." Jones was stranded on an Interstate 95 off-ramp just before 3:15 a.m. on Oct. 18, 2015. Raja, who was investigating car burglaries, got out of his van and walked toward Jones, who was on the phone with a tow truck dispatch center, which recorded the call. Prosecutors say Raja is never heard on the dispatch recording identifying himself as a police officer. Raja, who says he identified himself, was wearing jeans, a T-shirt, sneakers and a baseball cap. In the tow dispatch recording, Raja, a seven-year police officer who had joined Palm Beach Gardens six months earlier, yells "You good?" as he approaches. Jones says he is. Raja twice replies, "Really?" with Jones replying "yeah" each time. Suddenly, Raja shouts for Jones to put his hands up, using an expletive. Jones replies "Hold on!" and Raja repeats his demand. Raja then fires three shots in less than two seconds. Ten seconds pass before three more shots are heard a second apart, apparently Raja firing at Jones as he ran down an embankment. Raja told investigators Jones kept pointing his gun at him; prosecutors say Raja saw him throw it down but kept firing, which is why he is charged with attempted murder. Investigators have been unable to determine when the fatal shot was fired. Raja then used his personal cellphone to call 911 with the operator picking up 33 seconds after the last shot was fired. Raja is recorded yelling orders to drop the gun; prosecutors say he was trying to mislead investigators into believing he hadn't seen the gun thrown. Jones' body was found 200 feet (60 meters) from the SUV and 125 feet (38 meters) from his gun, which was unfired. Fernandez wrote that if Raja would have "acted in the manner consistent of how the huge majority of well-intentioned officers act on a daily basis, Corey would be alive today." Feuer has said she will rule within a month. RESOURCE LINK
  7. FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - The driver arrested following a deadly wreck involving a tow truck on Interstate 95 has officially been charged. Bradley Evan Ruben, 32, faced a judge in a Broward County courtroom Thursday. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, just before 1 a.m. Wednesday, Ruben drove his car into a tow truck that was working to clear the scene of an accident, striking a man who had responded to the scene to be with his wife, whose car was being towed. Troopers said Ruben admitted to having consumed a marijuana edible prior to the crash. He told troopers that it had affected him. Ruben fled the scene before he was arrested. Robby Sternberg, the tow truck driver, talked about how scary the situation was for him. “I thought I was dead,” said Sternberg. “I’m just lucky I’m alive right now, talking to you right now.” Police identified the victim as Juan Pedro Garcia. Officials said Garcia was standing on the shoulder of the highway when he was struck. He would be pronounced dead at the hospital, a short while after being admitted. Sternberg described the moments leading up to the crash. “I came to load up a lady’s vehicle,” he said, “and as I was loading up, I got out of the vehicle to tie her car down, and all of a sudden, I see a vehicle come straight at me, and it pushed me to the side of the highway.” Ruben has been charged with fleeing the scene of an accident. He has posted bond and could be released later Thursday afternoon. RESOURCE LINK With Video
  8. Jay brings the show's tow truck driver, Steve Hoffman, on a ride to pick up a friend in need. With 8,000 lbs of payload available, this truck can handle any job. Tune in to an all new Jay Leno's Garage Thursday 10P ET/PT
  9. A Texas police department released dash cam video of a small SUV hitting a car being loaded onto a tow truck to vividly illustrate the need for drivers to move or slow down when emergency vehicles are in the area. A police officer got out of the way in the nick of time, the video shows. No one was hurt, according to Fox29 television station. The police department wrote in a post about the video: "The law states a driver must either vacate the lane closest to the stopped emergency vehicle if the road has multiple lanes traveling in the same direction OR slow down 20 mph below the speed limit."
  10. It started out as a routine call for Donnie Curnow, owner of Animas Towing in Silverton. On Wednesday afternoon, May 2, a fierce spring storm hit the high San Juans and a motorist slid off U.S. Highway 550 at mile marker 57, near Coal Bank Pass. Curnow hit the road in his 2006 Ford F450 tow truck, along with his sidekick, a pit bull named Dozer. But going into the Lime Creek curve near milemarker 60.5, Curnow’s truck began to slide. “Coming down Lime Creek, everything was fine,” Curnow said on Tuesday. “But then going around the corner, it just tried to slide. I knew I was going over the edge, so I steered into it (to avoid rolling over).” That maneuver worked, at first, but with the truck bouncing down the embankment amid huge boulders, it went into a roll anyway. “The first roll I took, the roof hit my head,” Curnow recalled. “I thought, if that happens again, I’m not going to make it.” But he was, in fact, hit in the head again as the truck continued to roll, eventually landing on the driver’s side partially in the creek, after a plunge of more than 200 feet. Curnow said he was in pretty bad shape but still conscious. He called to the dog, but it didn’t want to go near him after the trauma. Curnow figured it would take a while for rescuers to arrive. “I knew I had to get to the side of the road,” Curnow said, so he started climbing despite suffering what later turned out to be a broken sternum and three broken vertebrae and head lacerations. Once reaching the highway, he rested in another motorist’s car. “I just remember sitting in that car and I couldn’t get my neck right,” Curnow said. Then rescuers, including San Juan County Sheriff Bruce Conrad and a Silverton Ambulance crew, arrived. “They were there immediately. I said, ‘Bruce, you’ve got to go find Dozer,’” Curnow recalled. As Curnow rode off to Mercy Regional Medical Center in the ambulance, Conrad climbed down to the creek and eventually found Dozer, soaking wet and very frightened after having been in the creek. Conrad figures he would not have survived much longer given how hypothermic he was. And Conrad said conditions on Highway 550 that afternoon were incredibly treacherous. He said he almost lost control himself coming down the grade to the Lime Creek curve in his 4-wheel-drive pickup. “It was crazy slippery,” Conrad said. “It was one of those cases where they should have closed the highway.” He said Curnow was “very, very lucky to be alive” after the truck plunge. Despite his severe injuries, Curnow was treated and released at Mercy without staying the night. And on Tuesday this week, he was walking around town a bit, though in obvious pain. RESOURCE LINK
  11. Tow truck maker hauls in bigger profits America's biggest tow truck maker hauled in nearly twice the profits of a year ago during the first quarter. Miller Industries Inc. said Wednesday it earned net income of $6.7 million, or 59 cents per share, on sales of $159.2 million in the first three months of 2018. In the same period a year ago, Miller earned $3.8 million, or 34 cents per share, on sales of $148.98 million. Company CEO Jeff Badgley credited the 73.7 percent gain in net income to improved sales and profit margins, combined with a drop in the effective tax rate for the company from 35.9 percent a year ago to 28.5 percent this year due to the new federal tax changes. "We are very pleased with our performance this quarter, in what was a very encouraging start to 2018," Badgley said in the quarterly earning report. "The trends across our business remain favorable as we continue to deliver revenue and earnings growth, return shareholder value, and make progress on our strategic priorities." Gross profit for the first quarter of 2018 was $18.4 million, or 11.6 percent of net sales, compared to $15.4 million, or 10.3 percent of net sales, for the first quarter of 2017. The effective tax rate of 28.5 percent in the first quarter of 2018 was down from 35.9 percent in the prior year period due to the lower tax rates under recently enacted tax laws. The company also announced Wednesday it will pay a quarterly cash dividend of 18 cents per share on June 18 to stockholders of record at the close of business on June 11. Badgley said he is optimistic about 2018, but he said "we continue to face uncertainty as it relates to sourcing raw materials for our products" due to the uncertainty about the effects of steel and aluminum tariffs. Miller Industries Towing Equipment is the world's largest manufacturer in towing and recovery equipment. Miller Industries offers a variety of products from auto-load units with 8,000-pound capacities to rotators with 75-ton capacities. Its tow trucks are sold under the Miller Industries family of brands of Century, Vulcan, Chevron and Holmes. Miller Industries was recently awarded the Chattanooga Regional Manufacturers Association (CRMA), Manufacturers Excellence Award for 2018 Company of the Year. The annual honor is given to a manufacturer that shows its manufacturing proficiencies and commitment to employee safety, health and training and to community involvement. Miller Industries is currently wrapping up a more than $40 million expansion to its production plants and its Ooltewah headquarters, complete with eco-friendly paint facilities, energy efficient all-LED lighting, employee training facility, and a state-of-the-art welding academy. RESOURCE LINK
  12. A motorist was placed under arrest this morning after he allegedly pointed a firearm at a Caltrans worker and fired shots in the air early this morning on hwy.24 in Contra Costa County, according to the California Highway Patrol. The CHP said the motorist – who was arrested at his residence – had pulled over to the center median just west of the caldecott tunnel while awaiting assistance for a flat tire around 2:15 a.m. today. According to the CHP, a Caltrans tow truck driver arrived and talked to the motorist, and tried to get him to move his vehicle from the center median to the right-hand shoulder. At some point, the CHP said a verbal argument occurred between the worker and the motorist, with the latter pointing a handgun at the Caltrans employee and then firing off a few rounds in the air. The CHP said a friend of the motorist then came to the scene, picked up the motorist and fled the scene. At that point, CHP officers arrived on the scene and closed all lanes of the freeway to investigate. All lanes of the freeway were cleared around 4:10 a.m. The suspect wasn’t identified and the Caltrans employee wasn’t injured, the CHP said. RESOURCE LINK
  13. 2017 Landoll Salesman of the Year

    David Bowe was recognized 2017 Salesman of the Year award from Don Landoll at the Landoll Corporation Trailer Dealer Meeting.
  14. 10Investigates revealed how law enforcement was wrongly dismissing criminal tow violations as "civil matters." TAMPA, Florida -- Following 10Investigates' continued reporting on tow trucks that break the law, along with the lack of oversight from local regulators and law enforcement, the Tampa Police Department is instructing officers to start taking reports from drivers who call in with towing complaints that could be criminal. Reviews of citizen complaints and nearly a dozen interviews indicate TPD officers - like many other law enforcement agencies - frequently dismiss tow truck problems as "a civil issue," even though state statute 715.07 provides for criminal charges - some felonies - for violations. "We need to do a better job to make sure we're all on the same page," said Tampa Police spokesperson Steve Hegarty. "Our officers need to know when it's a civil matter and when it's a felony and we can get involved." After 10Investigates brought repeat wrecker violations to the attention of county officials and the Tampa Police Department, the county began to rewrite its ordinances and TPD's attorney issued a memo to all officers instructing them to fully-document the problem and to direct-file the case with the state attorney's office. Towing companies in Hillsborough County used to be regulated by the Public Transportation Commission, but since it was dissolved in late 2017, there has been little oversight over the industry. Monday, 10Investigates told the story of drivers who had been the victim of overcharging and other violations. All of them reported calling the police and being told their complaints were "civil issues," rather than the criminal violations state statute 715.07 specifies. It's a misunderstanding among many law enforcement agencies that 10Investigates has identified before. TPD says it has two detectives looking into the specific violations 10Investigates documented recently, and their report will likely end up with State Attorney Andrew Warren, who emailed a statement to 10Investigates: “Our focus is protecting the community from predatory business practices. Operators who are knowingly breaking the law to shake-down customers will be held accountable. By partnering with TPD to prosecute these offenses, we know we can reduce how often they occur.” "We're going to enforce the law," Hegarty said. "We just need to be real clear what the law is so our officers know what the law is." The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office was not able to identify any recent cases where they had filed any tow-related charges, but the Manatee County Sheriff's Office had recently stepped up their enforcement, filing charges related to 715.07 against a local wrecker operator in March. RESOURCE LINK
  15. RICHFIELD TWP.: The Ohio Turnpike will dedicate a new memorial sign Friday in honor of a tow truck driver who was killed on the highway. The sign says: “Move over for stopped vehicle with flashing lights. In memory of Michael Kennedy.” Kennedy of Ravenna, whose nickname was “Turnpike Mike,” was an operator for Interstate Towing. He was killed in May 2015 when he was struck by a tractor-trailer while helping a driver who had a flat tire. He was 56. The sign, part of the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission’s Memorial Sign Program, will be located at Milepost 182. The dedication will take place at 10 a.m. at the Boston Heights maintenance building, 3245 Boston Mills Road. It will include remarks by Kennedy’s widow Vickie Kennedy, Turnpike Chairman Jerry N. Hruby, Turnpike Executive Director Randy Cole and Ohio State Highway Patrol Lt. Richard Reeder. RESOURCE LINK
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