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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingJuly 11 - July 17, 2018

Deja Vu Recovery

1 e669cby Jim "Buck" Sorrenti

Homer Parker started Parker Service in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 1934 as a gas station/grocery store with a one-bay repair shop. In 1954 Homer's son Larry took over, added another bay to the repair shop and bought the company's first tow truck. Larry's son Dan took over in 2008. Dan is the president and Larry is VP of the family business. They now have more than 70 units serving Fort Wayne and six surrounding counties.

"We were called at 7 a.m. and were told that this accident happened somewhere between 4:30-5:30 a.m. and went unnoticed until just before 7 a.m.," said Chris Harms, a heavy operator for Parker. "The whole kicker to this was that this was the second one at the same spot within a week's time. Just six days prior at the same exact location, another semi drove off the road and hit the first pillar and cracked it.

"Six days later the FedEx drove off, hit the already cracked pillar, broke it in half and hit the second one. The first semi driver passed away due to a health condition. We responded to both accidents within the week."

The first crash happened at around 5:30 a.m. on May 9 when the driver of a semi sped through the construction zone along I-69 just south of the I-469 interchange, and crashed head-on into the concrete supports of the under-construction span of an overpass. The rig crashed and the impact left the cab crushed and heavily damaged. The driver was taken to a local hospital in critical condition, but didn't survive.

This second crash happened at around the same time and the same place as the first one, only a week later on May 16. It involved a FedEx truck hauling two trailers of paint that veered off of I-69. It crashed off the roadway and down into a creek below the overpass.

The area is a construction zone where crews have been raising supports for a new bridge. At least three warning signs are placed before the lanes veer to the left and then back right.

Someone called the police and said, "Hey that accident from last week still isn't cleaned up?"

It was like deja vu. This driver was still alive and trapped under the cab of the semi tractor. He had been ejected out the back window of the day-cab Volvo and pinned between the cab and the river rock, fully submerged under water for several hours. All that was above water was his face.

Emergency crews were called around 6:45 a.m. The police officers, fire and EMS medics rushing to save this man's life and quickly realized they were in over their heads and called on Parker Service to assist with the extrication.

Parker dispatched two of their veteran operators, Chris Harms in a 2014 Century 1150 50-ton five-winch rotator and Keith Fryback in their 2015 Century 3212 16-ton medium-duty wrecker.

"We quickly came up with a plan to get the man we know as 'Joe' out of the wreckage," Chris said. "Using the Century 1150 rotator, I boomed out over the bridge. We used B/A Products blue round slings and basketed them around the A and B pillars of the cab to secure it for the lift."

Keith worked alongside the fire department on the ground and Chris stayed with his 1150 rotator and ran the remote. After about 20 minutes, Joe was free and conscious. He was airlifted to a local hospital. He had many broken bones, including a broken pelvis and ribs and they had to amputate a leg.

Once the driver was safe and clear, Chris and Keith went to work rigging the casualties and winching them out of the ditch. All of the wrecked units were towed back to Parker's.

Show Yours @ TIW
Do you have a recovery to share with TIW readers? Send some pics and info to our Field Editor Jim "Buck" Sorrenti at; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman magazine!
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