Digital Edition
Click Here
The Week's Features
It’s more common for operators to be assaulted on the job
Commissioner said she was “sickened by the story”
Design features extension for tandem- or tri-axle jeep dolly
Showcasing an orange and black scheme
Categories include Recovery Agent of the Year, others
Las Vegas, NV.
May 14-15, 2020
Cleveland, OH.
June 17-20, 2020
San Antonio, TX.
August 14-15, 2020
Baltimore, MD.
Nov. 19-22, 2020
American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in Towing February 19 - February 25, 2020

Downed Wires: Hot or Not?

567 8899fBy Randall C. Resch

With great interest I read an article in a Springfield, Missouri newspaper, in which, after nearly three years, it reported that the accidental death lawsuit of tow business owner and operator, Ed Kammermer, had settled. I was bothered at the news comments suggesting Ed's death was possibly without fault or error on the part of other responders who were first to arrive on-scene.

On Dec. 26, 2015, Edward Kammerer, 60, of Strafford, Missouri, died, when he exited his flatbed carrier near Farm Road 112 south of Strafford. Ed owned and operated A-1 Towing for 30-years and was an experienced tower and volunteer firefighter.

A hit and run motorist sheared a power pole that landed near the roadway and partially in a ditch. At the moment of impact and when the pole dropped, a second vehicle skidded to a stop near or on-top of downed electrical wires.

Ed spoke directly to the young male caller who anxiously explained that he and his pregnant fiancé were still sitting within their truck on-top of downed wires. Ed told the trapped vehicle's owner to not get out of their vehicle and to await the arrival of first-responders.

Ed responded to the accident scene upon request of the Greene County's Sheriff's Department. Ed arrived and found a Greene County Sheriff's Department volunteer directing traffic. Strafford firefighters were also on scene where barricades were said to have been situated near downed wires.

Newspaper accounts stated that Ed allegedly drove around the barricades to the vehicle located in the ditch where he didn't see downed power lines. It was reported that, as Ed drove to position his flatbed carrier, the carrier's overhead amber emergency lightbar snagged one of the downed wires and energized the carrier. As Ed exited his carrier, electricity jolted his body the moment he stepped onto the ground. He died instantly.

Hot or Not?

Strafford's fire chief said in a statement, "(The electrical wires) were not throwing off sparks. No one knows why the experienced tow truck driver didn't wait to make sure the power was off and the scene was safe."

I believe that statement in itself was made to imply error on the part of the tow operator and to shun responsibility by the city and county; but it did not determine whether or not it was completely communicated to Ed that power was totally shut down.

Herein lies the important lesson learned based on the fire chief's own words. Downed or exposed electrical wires do NOT have to be snapping, popping or dancing to be energized. With high-voltage electricity, you DON'T have to make direct contact with an energized source.

Mike Rottenberg is one of San Diego Gas & Electric's four fire coordinators and a retired command fire-chief from the Santee, California, fire-department. Mike warns, "Depending on the voltage, electricity can arch across 10 to 25 feet or more of open air"."

I suggest the fact that most firefighters, police officers, or other first responders are NOT qualified electrical engineers capable of determining that power has since been turned off. This is especially true of small towns with volunteer firefighters and law enforcement where they may not have been thoroughly trained in high-voltage scenarios.

Towers are reminded to locate a qualified, on scene, PG&E first-responder to solidly confirm downed wires are no longer energized before commencing vehicle recovery. Treat every downed power or electrical lines scenario as energized and live. Never enter hot zones before confirming all safe. Regardless as to how many years one may have on the job, always treat and approach each scenario as your first: be cautious, aware and inquisitive.

Regardless that a settlement was reached, the importance of Ed's unfortunate death hopefully passes the message regarding the dangers of downed wires. Here's to you Ed ... you are truly missed.

Randall Resch is American Towman's and Tow Industry Week's Operations Editor, a former California police officer, tow business owner and retired civilian off-road instructor for Navy Special Warfare. Randall is an approved instructor for towers serving the California Highway Patrol's rotation contract. His course is approved by the California law enforcement community. He has written over 500 industry-related articles for print and on-line, is a member of the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame, and, a recipient of the 2017 Dave Jones Leadership Award.

Click here to read more
In honor of these men and to stop these preventable deaths from happening again, AAA is urging drivers to do their best to keep towmen, drivers, and first responders safe on the roads.
New Braking Technology Leads to a Safer Ride for Towing Industry
Don't Miss It!
Join Paul Stephens of B/A Products for his seminar, “Mitigating Damage Claims.” This informative seminar will show attendees how to reduce the probability and possibility damage accusations and will present strategies to deal with damage accusations in the event they occur. It will take place during Tow Industry Week at the Westgate Paradise & Pavilion in Las Vegas, Nevada, May 14-15, 2020.

--Charles Duke
By Don Lomax
Click to enlarge

What would be the most effective way to mitigate towman roadside deaths?
Allow for blocking vehicles
Allow police vehicle lighting for tow trucks
Education/TIM training
Steeper fines for Move Over violations
Editor: Charles Duke
Managing Editor: Brendan Dooley
Media Director: William Burwell
ATTV Editor & Anchor: Emily Oz
Advertising Sales (800-732-3869):
Dennie Ortiz x213, Ellen Rosengart x203,
William Burwell x208, Peggy Calabrese x202
Content Management: Henri Calitri
Site Progr., Graphics & Video: Ryan Oser
ATTV Technical Production: OMG National
Wrecks + Recovery Editor: Jim "Buck" Sorrenti
Operations Editor: Randall C. Resch
Tow Business Editor: Brian J. Riker
Tow Illustrated Editor: George L. Nitti
February 19 - February 25, 2020
Jeremy Price saved a young man’s life last Wednesday evening when he pulled a driver from the wreckage of a burning car. Image - Woody Anderson Ford.

February 19 - February 25, 2020
Yellowstone Valley Tow Truck Association staged a 'light up' for a young girl who is battling cancer. Image –
homediv homediv
American Towman Exposition Gallery
Rate how they handled this recovery
Great job on a challenging recovery.
Hit all the basics on this one. Thumbs up.
Creative approach on this recovery. Good job.
I would approach this recovery differently.
Vehicle(s) could be rigged more efficiently.
More trucks were needed.
February 19 - February 25, 2020

NORTH - St. Paul, MN
(pop. 297,640)

SOUTH - Orlando, FL
(pop. 238,300)

EAST - Richmond, VA
(pop. 217,853)

WEST - Boise, ID
(pop. 214,237)

Light-Duty nonconsensual tow rates as provided by Police Towers of America.
February 19 - February 25, 2020
February 19 - February 25, 2020
February 19 - February 25, 2020
February 19 - February 25, 2020
Show More
homediv homediv
February 19 - February 25, 2020
The North American Repossessors Summit has announced the opening of nominations for their second annual Industry Awards.
Translate Page
Contact Us
© 2020  Tow Industry Week/American Towman Media, Inc.