H.B. honors towman who goes beyond the call of duty

John Boucher has saved a police officer's life and rescued dozens of people whose cars had broken down, all in the name of towing.

Boucher, the general manager of the Huntington Beach car towing company Mandic Motors, was honored by the City Council on Tuesday for his professionalism. During the council meeting, he was presented with a commendation signed by Mayor Barbara Delgleize.

The recognition came on the heels of Boucher receiving the Cross of the Order award in November in Baltimore and his induction into the Order of Towman, an elite organization of towing professionals nationwide.

He was nominated by Huntington Beach Police Chief Robert Handy for the city's accolade. Mandic Motors is one of two towing companies that contracts with Handy's department. The other is Best Towing and Transportation Services, at 7472 Warner Ave.

Mandic Motors, 18881 Gothard St., is owned by Robert Mandic, who served on the council for eight years, including two stints as mayor, in 1982 and 1986. The business was established by Mandic's father in 1939.

It has won several awards from the American Automobile Assn., commonly known as Triple A, for its service to the community, and Boucher has been touted as an integral part of the company, handling the day-to-day operations.

Boucher, 60, has worked for the company since 1974 and has served as the general manager since 1994.

Over his 42-year career, Boucher has faced challenges that most people wouldn't expect a towman to go through.

In 1984, Boucher said, he helped save the life of a Huntington Beach police officer who had been hit head-on by another driver.

Boucher said the officer wasn't breathing when he arrived on the scene. Boucher, who was a certified emergency medical technician, or EMT, and volunteer firefighter at the time, radioed police for help and was able to revive the officer before emergency personnel arrived.

"Saving the officer's life made me a brother to [the department]," he said.

Boucher said Mandic Motors is much more involved with the community than providing towing service. The business has worked with local high schools since 1996 to educate students on drunk driving in a program called "Every 15 Minutes," which simulates a fatal crash.

Boucher said the company provides the cars used in the program.

"I like helping people," he said. "It's in my DNA. I love people."

Robert Mandic echoed the sentiment.

"John is kind and always sees the best side of people," Mandic said. "He is so good at dealing with people because he is compassionate."

Handy said in an interview that he nominated Boucher for the award because of the business' work with the schools and occasional community work with the homeless. Mandic Motors will periodically provide free towing and repairs for homeless people living out of their cars, Handy said.

Boucher said he will have new responsibilities now that he is a member of the Order of Towman.

The group is backed by American Towman magazine. As a national organization, the hundreds of members are called upon to promote towing and help educate people about the profession.

Boucher said he has already been dubbed a captain in the club. With the promotion, he now has a sporty new black shirt and a club medal, which features a silver cross with a bow and arrow.

While he said the Baltimore event meant a lot to him, he was particularly moved, almost to tears, by being recognized in the city that he has served for more than four decades.

"It was a complete honor to accept the commendation," he said. "Normally I can talk, but I locked up that night. I don't do this for recognition but it's a culmination of 42 years."

benjamin.brazil@latimes.com

Twitter: @benbrazilpilot

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