The Week's Features
California towman comes to rescue of trooper under attack
Extra-thick low-clearance roadside mat is 2' wide by 4' long
Delinquency on payments highest since 2010
Man of Steel graphics are a company’s moving billboard
Some 32,000-pounds of peanuts makes a mess
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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingFebruary 20 - February 26, 2019
Towman Christian Melendrez, 21, is being hailed a hero for assisting California Highway Patrolman Philip Martinson after the officer was stabbed by a suspected DUI driver. Image -

CHP is Grateful for Towman's [b]Heroic Effort

A 21-year-old towman is being called a hero after he ran to the rescue of a California Highway Patrol officer who was under attack.

"I saw the cop car pulled over with the lights on," said Christian Melendrez, a towman with Selover's Towing who happened to be in the right place at the right time on I-5 near Williams on Feb. 15

The CHP says a suspected DUI driver stabbed Officer Philip Martinson in the back with a knife; the suspect was pulled over for speeding at more than 100 mph with hazard lights flashing.

Melendrez said it was instinct that made him respond to an officer in trouble. He said he jumped into action to follow the wounded officer's instructions.

"The next thing was, 'Can you grab some handcuffs? Help me,' " Melendrez said. "So I did. I took the handcuffs off his belt from the back, turned her over, got one arm in, put one on, got the other one."

The struggle wasn't over yet.

"And then I turned her over and realized the blade was still underneath her. So I grabbed the blade and threw it on the asphalt," Melendrez said.

The woman arrested was 25-year-old Haile Neil. She is facing charges of attempted murder of a peace officer, assault with a deadly weapon and driving under the influence of a controlled substance. She was in the Colusa County jail at press time.

"The good Samaritan, he put his life on the line," said CHP Officer Franco Castillo. "We appreciate what he did for Officer Martinson. ... It was definitely a brave act and very heroic on his part."

Melendrez's boss, Brad Selover, said he is proud of his employee's heroic actions. He said he instructs his drivers to be on the lookout for officers in trouble.

"They are out there daily helping us to slow down traffic, so I teach them to return the favor—you know, keep an eye on the officers and make sure they are standing upright when they go by," Selover said. "I train them to keep their eyes open for scenarios like this."

For his part, Melendrez said he's glad he just happened to be in a position to help save the officer.

"I'm glad he's good," Melendrez said of Martinson. "I hope to see him soon and talk to him."


Navistar Awards Top Suppliers

Navistar recently recognized 35 of its top-performing suppliers with its annual Diamond Supplier Awards. Exclusive to the top two percent of the company's supplier base, this select group has helped Navistar deliver uptime to its customers and has exceeded performance expectations in four key metrics: quality, delivery, technology and cost.

"The companies we recognize with the Diamond Supplier Award stand out from the rest for the outstanding level of support they provide in helping us deliver the highest level of quality and value to our customers," said Dave McKean, Navistar chief procurement officer. "These suppliers have earned this recognition by demonstrating a shared, unwavering commitment to quality, customer value, cost-effectiveness and innovation."


The Peterbilt Store Awarded [b]'Dealer of the Year'

Peterbilt Motors Co. named The Peterbilt Store as its 2018 Dealer of the Year. The award was presented at the 2019 Peterbilt Dealer Meeting held in San Diego, California.

"The Peterbilt Store has made significant investments in state-of-art facilities in multiple locations and it has paid off by making them one of the top performing dealer groups across several key metrics," said Jason Skoog, PACCAR VP and Peterbilt GM. "Their commitment to driving uptime for Peterbilt customers is something our entire dealer network should be proud of. The Peterbilt Store is a fantastic example of the customer-centric reputation Peterbilt is known for. I thank them for that commitment and for representing our brand and products in a way we all take pride in."

It was The Peterbilt Store's third Dealer of the Year award, adding it to their awards in 2004 and 2016. The Peterbilt Store operates 16 dealership locations across seven states.


City to Review Operator [b]Licensing, Fees

After fielding two appeals in a month's time in Westbrook, Maine, the city council has agreed it is time to revisit how clean a tow truck driver's criminal record must be to take on jobs for the city.

The council also agreed to review the fees towing companies can charge for city jobs at its Feb. 4 meeting.

Per city ordinance, the council may "deny, suspend or revoke" a tow operator's ability to respond to calls for service from city departments if the operator has been involved in motor vehicle offense within the last five years or involved in a felony offense or convicted of theft at any time.

At the council meeting, the council heard from Anthony McGilvray of Charlie's Towing and Charlie's Auto Transport, who was denied a permit to tow for the city because of a 1986 theft conviction. McGilvray has worked for Charlie's on and off for the last five years, but was recently assigned by the company to service Westbrook.

"It's been put behind me," he said of his conviction. "You guys should put it behind me as well and let me tow for the city."

Westbrook Police Capt. Sean Lally said the department had no issue with McGilvray being allowed to tow for the city.

"It was 1986. That was a long time ago and he's lived a very clean life since then, and we are all in support of this second chance for him," he said.

At their Feb. 25 meeting, councilors also will review the amount tow operators can charge on city-related calls. Operators currently charge $85 for a non-accident tow, $95 for an accident tow and $30 for vehicle storage.

A proposal, unanimously supported by the council's Public Safety Committee, would bump those prices up to $100, $125 and $40, respectively. The proposed numbers would bring Westbrook's fee structure more in line with surrounding communities.


AAA: Temperatures Affect [b]EV Driving Range

New research from AAA reveals when temperatures get to 20 degrees F and a car's heat is being used, the average driving range of electric vehicles decreases by 41 percent. This means for every 100 miles of combined urban/highway driving, the range at 20 degrees F would be reduced to 59 miles.

Cold weather, however, is not the only factor that can influence driving range. AAA's research also found that when outside temperatures heat up to 95°F and air-conditioning is used inside the vehicle, driving range decreases by 17 percent. Extreme temperatures certainly play a role in diminishing driving range, but the use of HVAC in these conditions – particularly the heat – has by far the greatest effect.

AAA urges EV owners to be aware of the reduction and the need to charge more often to minimize the chance of a dead battery. Of course, towers also should be aware of the potential uptick in stalled vehicles.


GPS Helps Find Tow Truck Thief

A woman was arrested after she was caught on video stealing a tow truck from a gas station in Houston, Texas, on Feb. 13.

Authorities say a towman with National Roadside stopped to get gas and went inside the store to use the restroom. While he was gone, the woman, who was also inside the store, walked out, got in the truck and drove off.

The truck had GPS tracking on it.

Houston police told Montgomery County officials that the stolen truck was in their area 90 minutes later.

 As units with the Department of Public Safety, Montgomery County Sheriff's Office and Precinct 4 constables tried to catch up with the truck, it turned into the Magnolia Bend subdivision off FM 1314 and stopped on Ponderosa Circle and Hickory. 

The woman was taken into custody, and the stolen tow truck was recovered. The wrecker driver was about to drop off a customer's vehicle when the truck was taken.

 The woman will be charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.

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