Janesville74.3°

Area towing services stretched during storm

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GINA R. HEINE
February 8, 2008
— “I’m coming to get you.”

For many drivers of stranded vehicles Thursday, those were welcomed words from long-time tower Steve Davis.


A snowstorm that left more than 15 inches throughout southern Wisconsin created booming business for area towing companies.


“This snow has been one of the worst I’ve seen in a long time,” said Davis, of Davis Citgo Service, Janesville. “Very dangerous, a lot of cars stuck.”


Interstate 39/90 ramps attracted a good chunk of the towing requests, he said.


“The ramps were actually drifting shut,” Davis said, so when the Interstate backed up, people couldn’t even use the off ramps. “Vehicles were stuck on the ramps. If you wanted to get off, you really couldn’t.”


Wreckers from Dewey’s Towing and Recovery, Beloit, were running steady, too.


At one point Thursday morning, workers running the two Dewey’s wreckers on the Interstate 90/39 ramps around Janesville pulled out 44 semitrailer trucks, a manager said.


Many of the trucks were empty or had light loads, which probably was why so many ended up in the ditch or jackknifed, Davis said.


But the slippery roads spared no size or type of vehicle—cars, 7-Up trucks and propane tankers all went off the road, Davis said. Drivers ranged from local commuters to out-of-state travelers, he said.


“I guess you see a little bit of everything,” he said.


The severity of the storm forced many stuck drivers to get a ride home and return to their vehicles hours later when a towing service called.


Such was the case for Larry Fierichs, who slid off Highway 14 at about 5:30 a.m. Thursday on his way to work in Evansville. He was cruising westbound at about 55 mph without any problem until he hit a slippery patch.


“Then she went bye-bye on me,” he said as he cleaned snow from under the hood of his Isuzu Trooper after Davis had pulled him out nearly eight hours later.


It was the 38th tow of the day for Davis’ service. Davis worked through the night Tuesday, all day Wednesday and went home for three hours of sleep at 1:30 a.m. Thursday.


Local towing companies expect to have most of their requests cleaned up by today, though some could stretch into the weekend. Slippery conditions this morning only sent more vehicles to the ditch, and more snow and strong winds are forecasted for the weekend.


Law enforcement officials communicate with the wreckers and help determine which vehicles should get towed first. Vehicles blocking traffic are a top priority, as well as ones with occupants, Davis said.


Deep snow in unplowed parking lots proved to be a challenge, too. Wreckers responded to pull delivery trucks and other vehicles out of gas stations, stores and truck stop parking lots, Davis said.


“It was a hard snow to keep up with because it just kept coming,” he said.



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