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Posts posted by TowNews

  1. The High Road: PTAO president discusses GTA towing coverage and a path forward


    Toronto, Ontario — The president of the Provincial Towing Association of Ontario has expressed concern about the recent coverage of the arrests of members of the GTA towing community in an interdepartmental operation, Project Platinum.


    Following the publication of a CBC story, Canadian Towing Professional spoke with PTAO’s president, Mark Graves and PTAO’s Fair Towing Ontario Task Force co-ordinator John Henderson.


    The article quoted Henderson as saying: “It’s gotten to the point where there could be as much as 60 percent of the towing industry in the GTA [that] is run by the criminal element.”


    Graves expressed concerns about how the quote was used.


    “I wish there had been more of an emphasis on the ‘as high as’ part of the quote,” said Graves.


    Graves cautions readers that the figure stated is not representative of the entire industry in Ontario. It more represents localized areas in large urban centers. He also feels statements such as these should not have been used in isolation.

    “If you have one legitimate business with a 100-truck fleet, and 100 single-truck operators that are not following the rules, you could report the statistics in any number of ways,” says Graves


    Henderson goes further and says that putting any hard numbers on how widespread criminal behaviour within the GTA towing sector would require an accurate assessment of how many companies and drivers actually exist. Currently, there is no system in place to quantify the towing industry. This makes it impossible to know the percentage of good and bad operators within the industry.


    “According to the Ontario Highway Traffic Act, any vehicle that is capable of towing another vehicle qualifies as a tow truck,” says Henderson.


    “In our presentations to government figures, we have made changing the definition of tow trucks in the Highway Traffic Act as one of our top priorities,” says Graves. “We put together a significant presentation on what a tow truck is and is not.”


    Graves says Henderson isn’t the only member of the towing community to see his words get printed without proper context—in fact, he says he has had something similar happen to him on several occasions.


    “I’ve had 20-minute interviews cut-down into 15-second sound bites. [Interviewers] clip a few words, and, all of a sudden, they’ve completely changed the context of the statement.”

    Systemic media bias against the towing community


    Graves feels that members of the press are prone to highlighting the wrong-doings of towing industry professionals while giving a pass to other members of other industries involved in the same crimes.


    According to Graves, reports of wrongdoing in the broader automotive aftermarket tend to be harder on members of the towing sector than other industries facing related allegations.


    Graves says this persistent bias can be seen in the CBC article.


    The piece opens with the line: “Several organized crime groups working in the towing industry have been using violence and property damage as a way to grab control and territory within southern Ontario, York Regional Police said Tuesday, while announcing multiple arrests.”


    It is not until its ninth paragraph that the article makes mention of other industries police say are colluding with criminals in the towing sector—specifically physiotherapists, auto repair businesses, and rental companies.


    According to Graves, the Police’s statements seem to imply that towing professionals are the originators of this type of criminal collusion. He adds that PTAO has never seen any evidence that proves this to be the case.


    While the specific piece, which focuses on the actual arrest of towing business figures across the greater GTA following the recovery of firearms and narcotics at GTA towing facility locations, may have a valid reason for side-lining the specific allegations against members of other industries, Graves point can be made of a number of recent stories about the towing community.


    One particularly glaring example comes from a March press release from the Insurance Bureau of Canada, Spot these five common insurance fraud scams.


    While towing businesses are involved in just one of the fraudulent activities listed by the think-tank, “Inflated Tow, Store & Dent,” it happens to be the one listed first. Though this broad category also includes malfeasance by auto repairers, it is the towing sector that gets top billing in its description.


    “Dishonest towing companies and auto repair shops intentionally overbill insurers, driving up insurance premium costs.”


    According to Graves, reporters have been particularly unfair to the towing community since reports of the turf war began to appear in papers around the world—turning innocent towing professionals into pariahs in the public’s mind.


    “They can point the finger at any industry they want – but it is the collusion that is the problem,” says Graves. “The fact is, it is not just the tow trucks. The towing companies are being led by, or working with other groups.”


    Graves hopes that members of the press, who he says are more sensitive to not casting unfair blame on all physiotherapists and collision repair facilities due to the actions of bad actors, can remember that: likewise, not all towing companies are to blame.”


    Industry-to-Province collaborations moving in the right direction


    While the towing sector may be struggling to get a fair shake from the press, according to both Graves and Henderson, officials in government and law enforcement are more interested in working with industry figures to help combat criminal activities in the towing sector.


    PTAO—through its Fair Towing Ontario Task Force—has made significant strides in the design of a Provincial licensing model that would hold companies and drivers within the towing industry responsible for their actions.


    Made up of a group of towing industry stakeholders, representatives of the Ontario Provincial Police, the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario and others committed to providing safe and efficient services to the motoring public, the task force works to raise awareness about the current situation.


    “The task force has set-up a website–fairtowing.ca–which includes a presentation we delivered to the government,”

    says Henderson. “It included videos of specific incidents that depict the types of issues that need to be resolved.


    One of the videos Henderson says is particularly telling and shows a black pick-up truck acting as a blocker truck, allowing a single towing vehicle to make its way to the scene of an accident—a clear example of the type of dangerous acts that occur due to the current lack of industry regulations.


    PTAO, along with the Task Force, is also working on a Provincial licensing model that Graves and Henderson believe will be a framework for a safer towing sector.


    “We have provided the province with the basics of a Provincial licensing model that could significantly reduce the criminal aspects that are currently a part of towing in specific regions,” says Graves. “Sure, it won’t eliminate everything, but it is something that can be built-on, not just a rubber-band solution.”


    The issue, however, may get worse before it gets better.


    “One of the messages that PTAO has been pushing in recent months is that—thanks to the COVID-19 situation—a lot of companies are struggling to survive. When the economy reopens, the current situation may be exacerbated in localized areas,” Graves cautions. “Criminals—in any sector—are just following the money.”



  2. Criminal warrants were issued last week to the owners of four Mobile towing companies, the latest installment in the long-running dispute between the city’s wrecking businesses and local law enforcement.


    In total, 28 warrants were issued Friday to four men for a combination of Insurance Fraud 1st and Insurance Fraud 2nd, according to the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office.


    Chad Fountain, the owner of A+ Towing, was issued with warrants charging him with four counts of Insurance Fraud 1st and two counts of Insurance Fraud 2nd.


    Danny Williams of Southport Towing was issued a warrant charging him with six counts of Insurance Fraud 1st, while the owner of Casher’s Wrecker Service, Wilbert Casher, is wanted on warrants charging him with six counts of Insurance Fraud 2nd.


    Lastly, Alan Luther was issued a warrant charging him with 10 counts of Insurance Fraud 1st.


    None of the four have handed themselves in to law enforcement, according to the MCSO jail log. Efforts to reach the four men were unsuccessful.


    The city’s towing issues arose last summer after local law enforcement accused several towing companies of price gouging customers and charging them more than legally allowed in the city’s towing ordinance. Not long after announcing the probe into the industry, AL.com discovered that the Mobile Police Department impound lot was also overcharging customers for towing services and storage, and had been doing so since at least late 2015. Some in the towing industry claim the practice has been going on for more than a decade.


    In response, MPD Chief Lawrence Battiste said the department would immediately change its internal practices, but assured the actions were not criminal.


    Friday’s criminal warrants come months after the father and son owners of SOS Towing were indicted by a Mobile County grand jury. Gary Smith Jr. and Gary Smith Sr. have been facing charges since being arrested and charged by MPD in September.


    The two men also had four tow trucks taken under controversial civil asset forfeiture laws. The trucks were ultimately returned after a Mobile circuit judge said the seizure was unlawful. The Mobile County District Attorney’s office appealed to the Alabama Supreme Court but ultimately dropped the civil case earlier this year.


    The Smith men’s next court date in the criminal trial is set for July 14, according to Alabama court records.





  3. Hundreds of charges laid, including first-degree murder, following investigation into towing industry turf war


    Police have arrested 20 people and laid hundreds of charges in connection with a long-simmering turf war for control of the Greater Toronto towing industry that they say has resulted in “murders, attempted murders, assaults and arsons.”


    York Regional Police say that a joint-forces investigation, dubbed Project Platinum, was launched in February to probe some of the violence.


    They say that investigators, in turn, identified “several organized crime groups” working within the towing industry who were fraudulently inflating costs and, in at least 10 cases, even “deliberately causing collisions” to increase profits.


    They say that the groups netted millions of dollars in illicit profits but as the money increased so did the “demand for territory and with that the need to control that territory through violence.”


    Police ultimately identified more than 150 different acts of violence that the groups are believed to be responsible for, though they say that many offences likely went unreported, meaning that the real number may be even higher.


    “We allege that the competition for control of the tow market has resulted in murders, attempted murders, shootings, assaults, arsons, threats and property damage,” Superintendent Mike Slack said in a video announcing the arrests.


    Slack said that police believe the truck companies collaborated with auto repair shops, physiotherapy clinics and car and truck rental companies to “grossly inflate” bills with each group getting a cut of the proceeds.


    He said that insurance companies had in turn banded together to fight the fraud, at one point hiring Carr law firm in Vaughan “to act on false claims until it too became the targets of violence, threats and extortion.”


    Slack said that as a result of the investigation police have laid hundreds of charges, including two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the shooting death of tow truck driver Soheil Rafipour outside his Richmond Hill home in December, 2018 as well as charges of attempt to commit murder and conspiracy to commit murder in relation to an incident at the offices of Carr law firm.


    He said that charges were also laid in connection with the orchestration of an arson on March 29 that resulted in the burning of three large transport trucks at a vehicle storage yard in Vaughan.


    “We are in the process of dismantling four distinct criminal organizations through these arrests and those to come,” Slack said. “With the accused facing charges and their assets seized we expect the extreme level of violence we have seen in our community to diminish.”


    Large cache of weapons seized


    Some of the charges announced on Tuesday were laid back in March but many of them were laid on May 20 after police executed search warrants at 21 different locations in Vaughan, Richmond Hill, Markham, Hamilton, Oakville, Toronto, Aurora and East Gwillimbury.


    During the execution of those search warrants police seized a large cache of weapons, including 16 handguns, 13 shotguns, nine rifles, one machine gun, one air pistol converted to a .22 calibre pistol, one sawed-off shotgun and thousands of rounds of ammunition.


    They also seized five kilograms of fentanyl, 1.5 kilograms of cocaine, 1.25 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, 1.5 kilograms of cannabis and more than $500,000 in cash.


    Slack said that he expects the arrested to result in a “diminishing level of violence” across the GTA in the “short term” but he warned that regulatory changes need to be made to the towing industry in order for there to be “a lasting effect.”


    “Every aspect of this industry has an opportunity to make additional money, more than you normally would in payouts from insurance companies,” he said. “It starts with the tow, that inflated tow bill that is associated with that. Then there are inflated storage costs or moving vehicles around so that owners can’t find their vehicle and have to pay additional storage fees. Then there is the billing associated to damage, billing insurance companies for damage that did not occur or causing additional damage in the storage lot and billing that additional damage.”


    Slack said that police are hopeful that there will be bail conditions placed on many of the accused parties that “will prevent them from continuing to do business,” though he conceded that it has been “difficult” to get the courts to impose those conditions.


    RESOURCE LINK with video shows tow trucks being seized

  4. Tow truck driver charged with speeding and stunt driving on Nikola Tesla Boulevard




    A tow truck driver had his vehicle impounded and licence suspended for seven days, police say, after being clocked driving nearly twice the posted speed limit Saturday.


    The 44-year-old Caledonia man was stopped on Nikola Tesla Boulevard around 4 p.m. Saturday after his white truck was seen "operating at a speed considerably faster" than the limit, according to a media release.


    Police say the man was driving 113 km/h in a 60 km/h zone.


    The man is charged with stunt driving and speeding.


    If found guilty in court, the man could face a fine up to $10,000, six months in jail or a two-year licence suspension, say police.


    The service notes it's taken a "zero-tolerance approach" to stunt driving and asks anyone with information about the incident to contact police.



  5. 1 driver dead after crash in SW Miami-Dade


    SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - One person has died after a crash in Southwest Miami-Dade.


    The crash took place in the northbound lanes of Florida’s Turnpike just south of the Bird Road exit shortly before 7 a.m., Monday.


    One driver involved in the crash said their vehicle hydroplaned due to the slick roads.


    A Tow Truck responded to the scene to help when a second white Honda crashed into the Tow Truck.


    The powerful impact claimed the life of the driver behind the wheel of the white vehicle.


    The Road Ranger who was outside of the Tow Truck was uninjured in the incident.


    RESOURCE LINK with video

  6. OTTAWA -- Ottawa residents are being asked to provide feedback on the city’s towing industry.


    The city has launched a “Towing Services Regulatory Review” as part of a review to see if the City of Ottawa needs regulations for towing companies, tow truck drivers and storage yards.


    While the City of Ottawa regulates towing services through provisions found in the Traffic and Parking Bylaw, there is no business licencing or regulatory regime for the towing industry in Ottawa.


    The city says it regularly receives concerns and complaints about towing services, particularly about billing, business practices, safety on the road, safety at collision scenes and alleged illegal activities.


    You can fill out the survey on the City of Ottawa’s website, or email towingregulations@ottawa.ca with feedback until June 30.


    Questions on the survey include whether the City of Ottawa needs specific regulations for tow truck companies and drivers in order to promote better public safety and consumer protection, and whether training for tow truck drivers should be required to ensure safety and protection of property.


    One questions asks if you agree or disagree that “the city should regulate rates for towing services to help prevent overcharging.”


    The City of Ottawa has launched a second survey for employees and owners in the tow truck industry.


    A report will be presented to the Community and Protective Services Committee later this year with recommendations on potential regulations for the towing industry.


    The survey was launched a month after the RCMP charged three Ottawa Police officers with breach of trust following an investigation into an alleged tow truck tip-off scheme.


    LINKS can be found in the News Story

  7. UNION COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – Deadly shots ringing out in Union County. That was the case Saturday night after deputies said several people were shot during a large party on Dover Road. Two of those people died of their injuries.

    A shocking night for a Gaffney man.


    “There was this girl that fell on the ground and the crowd just trampled her,” said a Gaffney man who wishes to remain anonymous.


    He asked us not to use his name or show his face. However he wanted to share what he told us, he saw on a rural road in Union County.


    “We hear hundreds of people screaming and people start running in the road and that’s when the gunshots went off,” the man told us.


    He told 7 News he was on his way to Union to see some family Saturday.


    “It was just pandemonium out there with all those people. There was well over 1,000 people out there,” said the man.

    He’s not wrong. Major Scott Coffer with the Union County Sheriff’s Office told us they’ve seen large parties in this area before. However, he said never this big.


    “You had the people that were hit that had gunshot wounds. We were trying to get to them and get EMS in there to help them, so very chaotic,” said Union County Sheriff’s Office Deputy, Major Scott Coffer.


    Major Coffer told us it all started when they got a report of cars parked up and down a nearby road.


    He told 7 News, as a tow truck was taking away some of those cars parked over the white line, shots started firing.


    “We were noticing some victims come out with gunshot wounds. There was still more gunshots going off and then we tried to disperse the crowd,” said Major Coffer.


    But the Gaffney man we talked to said getting out of that crowd wasn’t easy.


    “I didn’t know what I was supposed to do because you can’t run over people, you’re trying to get out of there as quick as possible but you’re pretty much stuck,” said the Gaffney resident.


    He said all they could do was take shelter within the walls of their car until they had a clear path out.


    “I’m just glad we made it out and I’m sorry for the victims who didn’t,” the man told us.


    Major Coffer told us seven people were shot. Two of them are dead. 17-year-old Jabbrie Brandon, of Union, who was transported to a hospital where he later died. The coroner also identified 21-year-old Curtis Lamont Bomar, of Spartanburg, who died at the scene.


    Two suspects have been arrested in connection with the shooting. Major Coffer told us they could be facing charges of homicide and attempted murder.



  8. VIDEO PENDING see resource link


    After CBS 2 Exposed More Towing Scams, City Council Moves To Add Consumer Protections


    CHICAGO (CBS) — New reforms are in the works to protect Chicago car accident victims from predatory towing companies.


    For years, the CBS 2 Investigators have been reporting on accident chasers–towing companies that listen to police scanners and then show up at crash sites. The compaines charge inflated fees to rip off insurance companies or car owners who don’t even have insurance.


    Like the Morrows, who we met last month. Area 1 Towing hooked up their damaged car and later demanded $4,700 for the tow, storage and questionable fees including including $290 for a COVID-19 cleaning.


    The Murrows could not afford those costs and faced losing their car.


    “I haven’t got words to express the anger,” said Chris Morrow. “We were the victims of a towing truck scam.”


    After they complained to CBS 2, the towing company got fined by the Illinois Commerce Commission and was threatened with a lawsuit .


    It was a triple whammy that got the couple their car back Monday for a fee reduced from $4,000 to $400.


    Now their alderman is proposing new regulations –as a first step to ending industry abuses in Chicago.


    “This is just the wild west right now in this industry,” said Ald. Gilbert Villegas. “These bad actors, we’re going to try to put pressure on them until they clean up, or we’re going to try and put them out of business.”


    He already proposed strengthening the no police scanner law by prohibiting towing companies from using them to drum up business. He also wants to require city licenses to tow in Chicago, city oversight of fee disclosures and having police call pre-screened tow companies to accident scenes.

    “You story brought a lot attention to it and put some wind in our sails,” said Villegas. “We appreciate that because now a lot of my colleagues have some of the same stories.”


    Stories like Morrows.


    Toward that end, hearings before the City Council’s licensing committee are planned to help flush out towing industry rules.


    RESOURCE LINK with video

  9. Joseph Davis went to Getz Service Station in Upper Macungie Township on Monday morning for a routine matter: picking up a totaled car.


    But when Davis, a Bethlehem resident and the owner of Tactical Towing, left the Getz office and walked past the garage, he noticed something odd through one of the open garage doors.


    It was a black baby doll, apparently hanging from a shelf with a white loop around its neck. The imagery of the noose is connected to the history of lynching in the U.S., particularly in the South after the Civil War, according to the Anti-Defamation League.


    Davis said he stayed calm, walked back into the office and brought the man behind the desk out to the garage to look at the doll. The man giggled and said he didn’t know who put it there, Davis said.


    As Davis left, he noticed the doll was still hanging there. So he snapped a picture and posted about it on Facebook, where it was shared more than 5,000 times.


    “There are so many things wrong with it,” he said. “What if a child saw that, especially a black child ... saw a black baby doll hanging by a noose? That has to hurt ... it’s degrading.”


    After it was contacted about the incident, the Allentown branch of the NAACP wrote to AAA asking the organization to rescind its contract with Getz.


    “This disgusting scene represents racial hatred and child abuse that has no place in our society or any other,” the NAACP wrote.


    A woman who picked up the phone at Getz on Thursday said everyone at the garage regrets what happened and that the doll has been removed. The station, which repairs cars and trucks and offers 24-hour towing, was established in 1978, according to its website.


    “We have zero tolerance for racial insensitivity,” said the woman, who declined to give her name. “It really wasn’t what it appeared to be and was not racially motivated by any means. It was just one of the weird things you don’t think about.”


    A spokesman for AAA on Tuesday said member services for Getz have been suspended pending an investigation. It was not immediately clear what those services are, but shops with AAA “approved auto repair” are prescreened for quality auto work, according to the organization’s website.


    “We are aware of the disturbing situation and we take these allegations very seriously,” the AAA spokesman said in an email.

    Barbara Redmond, secretary for the Allentown NAACP, said the image of the doll references racial hate and sends a message that the people who put it there are insensitive.

    Davis said he supports the NAACP letter.



  10. London's Police Services Board voted Thursday to delay a decision about whether to extend its contract with Ross Towing by a year, which makes the company the exclusive provider of all police-initiated tows. 


    Ross's three-year contract with LPS began in January 2018 with an optional fourth year at the discretion of the board. Unless the optional year is approved, the contract will end on Dec. 31, 2020. 


    The contract has been a sore point with small towing companies, who've claimed it's unfair for one company to get all the police-requested tows. 


    However, an 18-page report submitted by Deputy Chief Trish McIntyre to Thursday's meeting lays out some of the reasons police entered the contract.


    Ross is a large company with 45 drivers and two sizeable impound lots with 24-hour access for police.  


    The report drew a distinction between the service capabilities of Ross versus those of other, smaller companies. 


    The attributes of the contract with Ross Towing, as laid out in the police report, include:


    • 24-hour police access to two vehicle storage compounds. 
    • Around-the-clock dispatch. 
    • 2 licensed mechanics on staff.
    • Set towing fees, listed on the police website. 
    • Security clearance checks on all employees. 
    • 20-minute response time.
    • Large fleet of vehicles for all manner of tows, including heavy vehicles.
    • Uniformed employees. 
    • A policy of zero blood-alcohol level for employees on the job. 

    The report points out that anyone who needs a tow can request service from another company. The report also claims that about half of all tows at collisions in London went to Ross, the rest to smaller companies. 


    The report says a total of 38 different companies performed tows at London accident scenes in 2019. 

    Of those: 


    • 11 had a website.
    • 1 listed tow prices. 
    • 17 did not list a business address. 
    • 14 had a Facebook, Yellow Book or Google page. 

    The report says some tow truck operators are affiliated with body shops while others appear to operate out of private residences. 


    Ross was originally awarded the contract after a request for proposal process. 


    A controversial clause in the contract says that  if a driver doesn't specify a preferred company to tow their car, police officers should recommend Ross. 


    "I'm increasingly uncomfortable with the policy as drafted in terms of that section," said board vice-chair Susan Toth. "I'm very uncomfortable with the idea that in our policy we are required to recommend one towing company over others, if someone doesn't make an initial choice. It looks like we are preferring one over someone else." 


    Mayor Ed Holder said if companies meet criteria set by the police board, they should be able to have a crack at the business. 


    "That to me is free enterprise, if people have made investments in ensuring their operation's quality," said Holder. "If organizations can't meet that standard, then they're off the list. I think it's as simple and clear as that." 


    Deputy Chief Trish McIntyre said she believes smaller towing companies are interested in forming an organization with set standards to ensure customers get fair service. McIntye said she's not opposed to sharing the work out to other companies that meet the standard.


    "There is some criteria that they need to establish ... and then I think we open it up to them," she said. 


    "When the police are at the roadside they need to know that they're not sending someone off with someone who could put them at risk, that there's not going to be price gouging," she said. 


    The motion to delay for one-month the decision to add another year to the contract passed three to two with Toth, Deputy Mayor Jesse Helmer and Mayor Ed Holder voting in favour. Voting in opposition were Coun. Maureen Cassidy and board member Jeff Lang. 


    The extension will be voted on at a future meeting of the London Police Services Board. 



  11. 2 teen boys surrender to police, charged with 1st-degree murder in Etobicoke shooting


    Two teenage boys have been charged with first-degree murder in connection with a shooting in Etobicoke last week that left a young man dead inside a tow truck, Toronto police say. 


    The victim has since been identified as Hashim Kinani, 23. 


    Police were called to the area of Panorama Court and Kipling Avenue in Etobicoke at about 7:40 p.m. on May 14 after reports of gunfire.


    They arrived to find Kinani suffering multiple gunshot wounds. He was later pronounced dead at the scene, police said. 


    Three males were seen fleeing the area on foot, police said, adding that the incident was being investigated as a homicide. 


    In a news release Thursday, police said the two accused, ages 15 and 17, surrendered to police on Thursday. 


    They have since been charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder.


    Both are scheduled to appear in court at 2201 Finch Avenue West on Friday. 


  12. Fargo’s All Pro Towing helps couple escaping New York amid pandemic

    A couple trying to escape the state as it became a hotspot in March ran into a problem they weren't prepared for

    Click for Video:



    FARGO, N.D. — As COVID-19 cases racked up in New York, Kyle Kinard and his wife loaded up their SUV and set out to leave their Brooklyn apartment behind.


    But their second stop of what was supposed to be a smooth-sailing road trip to eastern Washington didn’t go entirely as planned.


    “My wife was kind of looking on Google Maps and picked out the Sheyenne National Grasslands south of Fargo, so we decided we were going to poke around in there and try to find a spot to sleep for the night,” Kinard says.


    Instead of getting a good night’s sleep, what they got was their KIA getting stuck in a trail of mud.


    “I think I wrote in the piece in Road & Track that I wanted to set the thing on fire with me inside it.”


    Kinard, who’s a senior editor at Road & Track magazine, recently wrote about their off-road experience; the article shining a light on a Fargo man and his business.


    “Stuff still happens,” says Nathan Lohman. “People still get stuck, they get locked out of their cars, they need tows, we still have to be there for them.”


    Nathan and Marty Lohman of All Pro Towing in Fargo came to their rescue.


    The father-son duo admit they were nervous to get in a truck with Kinard amid the pandemic, but knew they had to help.


    “We were pretty scared, you know,” says Marty Lohman. “I was riding out there with Kyle in my tow truck and we were sort of looking at each other. That was at the beginning, so we didn’t shake hands, and we were nervous.”


    They ended up freeing the SUV in less than 15 minutes, and Kinard says he’s glad he made that call to Lohman.


    “He was a great guy to deal with, and I think he was sympathetic toward the situation I had put my wife in, at least.”


    Even in the face of a pandemic, being there for others is what Lohman says he’s here for.


    “We have to keep going. Us, law enforcement, medical, we have to keep going to do the rescues,” he says.


    The Kinards made it safely to Pullman, Washington after being on the road for 45 hours.


  13. CrimeStoppers: Auto theft in Kailua, burglary in Pearl City, Kailua car break-in




    HONOLULU (KHON2) — Sgt. Chris Kim is back with another weekly report of recent crime on Oahu.


    The first is an auto theft case that happened in the Kailua area.


    CrimeStoppers says that on Wednesday, April 8, a vehicle that was captured on video surveillance being towed at 22 Kainehe Street by an unmarked tow truck with no license plates. The description of the suspect is an unknown female, dark hair, wearing a black shirt, denim shorts, a black face mask, and tattoos on her right forearm.


    The second case is a second-degree burglary in the Pearl City area. On Monday, May 3, the victim discovered the front door of their residence wide open on Komo Mai Drive. A lanyard with their residence and vehicle keys was missing from the kitchen. Upon checking outside, their rental vehicle was gone.


    The description of the outstanding vehicle is a green 2018 Kia Soul, Hawaii license plates KCX -165.


    A person of interest is a man who is said to be local with a fair complexion and an average build with dark brown hair.


    He was seen wearing a white baseball cap, a white mask, a grey hoodie, and white shoes.


    The third case is a vehicle break in in the Pearl City area.


    Police say that on Sunday, May 3, 2020, at about 6:34 p.m., a man shattered the front passenger window of the complainant’s vehicle that was parked on Farrington Highway. The suspect reached in and took the complainant’s yellow purse, and fled in an unknown direction.


    The male is unknown but is said to have a medium build and a dark complexion. He was last seen wearing a light-colored beanie, white shoes, and a light-colored backpack.


    Anyone with information about these incidents, call CrimeStoppers at 955-8300. The public may now send anonymous web tips to www.honolulucrimestoppers.org or via the P3 Tips app. You may also be eligible to earn up to a $1,000 reward.



  14. harbor-freight.thumb.jpg.186d60b866d1cb55b2a98d437cb3935e.jpg


    The recall document says that the problem could affect more than 450,000 6-ton jack stands produced between 2013 and 2019 and nearly 1.3 million 3-ton jack stands produced between 2012 and 2020. These jack stands were sold under the Pittsburg brand name, and can be identified by item numbers 56371 or 61196 on 3-ton models, and 61197 on 6-ton models.



  15. LONDON, ONT. -- A wildly inconsistent towing industry, troubled by so-called ‘chaser’ trucks, is described in a new report prepared by London police.


    The report to the London Police Services Board (LPSB) recommends renewing its contract with Ross’ Towing until Dec. 31, 2021. A Request For Proposals (RFP) bidding process would then be launched for the next contract.


    The current contract sees Ross’ called for all police-related towing requests at accident scenes and when vehicles are seized. Previously, calls were rotated between operators.


    But other tow truck operators in London have argued against extending the contract, saying it created a ‘monopoly’ and motivated some companies to chase accidents.


    So-called ‘chaser' tow trucks listen to radio scanners, race to collisions, and use high-pressure sales tactics on drivers involved in an accident.


    'Upcharges' boosting tow bills

    “Often the driver never sees the actual tow bill as it is added to the body shop repair bill,” reads the LPSB report.

    As an example, the report includes a bill from an unidentified local tow company for $2,791, which includes added charges for cleanup, wait time and mileage.


    The contract with Ross’ Towing includes upfront, standardized pricing advertised on their website.


    Number of 'chasers' growing

    According to collision reports, at least 38 tow truck companies were operating in London last year. Prior to 2015 there were just 13 towing companies.


    When a vehicle does not need to be impounded by police, drivers involved in an accident can use any tow truck company that they wish.


    But reputable companies in London say they have been unfairly impacted by the actions of a few bad apples.


    According to police records, at accidents attended by police in 2019, 51 per cent (1,779) of vehicles were towed by Ross’ and 49 per cent (1,706) were towed other companies.


    Business licensing partial solution

    The report also makes several references to city council’s ongoing discussion of business licensing rules for tow truck operators.


    The goal would be to improves safety and consumer protection.


    Civic administration is drafting possible rules, including a minimum 200 metre setback distance for ‘chaser' tow trucks not invited to an accident scene.


    The report to the police board says most other large cities in Ontario have similar rules in place, “but chasing still takes place.” The buffer is, however, another tool to “crack down” on the behaviour.


    The London Police Services Board will discuss the report on the local towing industry on May 21.



  16. OBIT:
    Frank "Sonny" Milewski Jr., 73, of Jefferson Twp., passed away Sunday morning surrounded by his loving family after a short, courageous battle with cancer. He is survived by his companion, Barbara Woodward.

    Born in Scranton, he was the son of the late Frank J., Sr. and Minnie Simon Milewski and attended Scranton schools. Before retirement, he was employed in his family business, Keyser Valley Auto Wreckers.

    Sonny was a hard worker and dedicated to his job. He enjoyed spending time with his many friends and especially enjoyed visiting his granddaughter, Milana, every Thursday. He loved going to the YMCA in Dunmore and would do anything for anyone in need. He will be sadly missed by all who knew and loved him.

    Also surviving are his children, Frank III and his companion, Kim Birtell; and Paul and his companion, Chrissy Stapleton, all of Scranton; Andrew, New York; and Tyler Marie Milewski, Texas; grandchildren, Abygaile, Gavin and Milana; brothers, Michael and wife, Bertha, Jefferson Twp.; and Robert and wife, Diane, Sterling Twp.; numerous, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.

    The funeral will be Wednesday morning celebrated by the Rev. Christopher Manuele at St. Joseph's Melkite Greek Catholic Church, West Scranton. Inter­ment, Sacred Heart Cemetery, West Scranton.

    In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to St. Joseph's Melkite Greek Catholic Church, 130 N. St. Frances Cabrini Ave., Scranton, PA 18504.

    Arrangements by Savino Traditional Funerals and Cremation Care, 157 S. Main Ave., West Scranton, Carl J. Savino Jr., supervisor.

    To leave an online condolence, please visit www.WestScrantonFunerals.com.
    Published in Scranton Times on May 19, 2020.

  17. 1stclassA.jpg.1d5b968a7149b97b36250b8379cedef6.jpg


    MUSKEGON, Mich. — On Sunday, a West Michigan man and his family reunited with a wrecker driver who possibly saved his life.


    It was a rainy but welcomed reunion between Duane Braden and Rob Douglas who were strangers just a day before.


    On Saturday, Braden was in his backyard fixing the gas tank in a 1996 Chevy Trailblazer.


    “Decided to change the doggone thing and put the new one,” said Braden. “It didn’t work out that way.”


    Braden’s car jack gave out and pinned him underneath the car.


    “All of a sudden it just started rolling back and there was nothing you can do,” said Braden. “I was on my back, gasping for air, and I thought to Him ‘Somebody help me, help me.’”


    Braden’s daughter and son-in-law were nearby and rushed to call 911.


    As dispatchers worked to get first responders to the home, Douglas, a tow truck driver with 1st Class Towing, heard the call come over the scanner. He happened to be a few blocks away from Braden’s Laketon Avenue house.


    “I proceeded to go over there to help out,” said Douglas. “When I got there, he was trapped underneath the vehicle, so I was able to back my tow truck back to him and hook his back bumper with my wheel lift to lift it up to get it off of him.”


    Braden spent the night in the hospital but was discharged Sunday. The accident left him with a broken collarbone, an ear full of stitches, and cuts on his arms and legs.


    “I’m feeling halfway decent now, but the past 24 hours have been a real royal pain,” said Braden.


    Douglas believes Braden is lucky to be alive.


    “Usually when that happens, it’s not a great outcome,” said Douglas. “For him to be able to be here today, is the best outcome. Obviously, I was at the right place at the right time.”


    Braden recognizes that too. He says he’s done fixing up cars. He also wants to use his accident as a reminder to others that they should use blocks when working on cars and be surround by other people.


    “If it wasn’t for the people that was here, I wouldn’t be here,” said Braden.




    CHULA VISTA, Calif. — A tow truck driver was in the process of towing a vehicle late Saturday in the 800 block of East Palomar Street in Chula Vista when he was struck by a suspected drunk driver.


    Officers from the Chula Vista Police Dept. responded to the scene after receiving calls of a traffic collision at approximately 10:44 p.m. Police say the 25-year-old tow truck driver had been struck by a vehicle traveling west on East Palomar Street.


    Upon arrival, fire personnel and officers found the man lying on the roadway. He was transported to Scripps Mercy with “serious injuries,” according to police.


    A preliminary investigation found the tow truck driver was stopped in the westbound No. 2 lane of East Palomar and had exited the vehicle when he was struck by a 2001 Toyota 4Runner traveling west. In addition to the tow truck operator, the driver of the 4Runner also struck the vehicle being towed. The 4Runner was found at the scene flipped on its side.


    The driver of the 4Runner and a passenger sustained minor injuries and were transported to the hospital for medical evaluation. According to police, the driver later was arrested under suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.


    The collision remains under investigation by the Chula Vista Police Traffic Division.




    On Friday, May 15th at the Cedar Lake Speedway in St. Croix County during a school bus race, Edward A. Nicholson, a member of the safety crew, died while trying to clear the track as another bus fell onto him.


    The St. Croix County Emergency Communication Center responded to the call and at the scene, Nicholson was extricated and life saving efforts were attempted by emergency personal.


    Nicholson was pronounced dead at the scene by the St. Croix County Medical examiner.


    The incident remains under investigation by the St. Croix County Sheriff's office, Medical Examiners office and OSHA.


    Citywide Service Towing said on the FB Page:

    Its with a heavy heart that we get the news of the passing of Edward Nicholson, he was only 62. He spend decades working with our towing family and in the community. He always had a wave for fellow operators on the roads, a smiling helping spirit, a helping hand and great knowledge on the jobs, no matter who he was working along side of....your uniform color and tag didn't matter. He will be missed by many. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends, and to his family at Twin Cities Transport and Recovery. RIP Eddie, we will carry your chains from here.


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