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It’s Really Been Beautiful Outside--If You Own a Towing Service, That Is

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Before the rain begin falling Tuesday night, business at Jim’s Towing was pretty slow.

“Then the clouds broke and there were 10 phone calls, (one) right after another,” dispatcher Gary Dale said. When Dale arrived at work at 7 a.m. Wednesday morning, the night crew “was still out running calls.”

“People are doing silly things and aren’t driving defensively,” Dale said. “They’re driving through puddles and that will make your car die.”

As a result, Dale said, the number of calls to the towing company has more than tripled since the storm started two days ago.

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And that’s not counting towing that went on right outside Dale’s office. The major intersection near Jim’s Towing at 19th Street and Placentia Avenue was flooded around midday, and Dale told his drivers to push stalled cars “through the intersection free of charge as a courtesy to get the streets clear.”

Most of Dale’s calls Wednesday were from Automobile Club members who had dead batteries or had locked their keys inside their cars. In the rain, Dale said, people are in a hurry and more likely to forget their keys.

Company owner Jim Lewis said that another problem is an increased number of accidents on the freeways.

“The (San Diego) Freeway is a parking lot,” Lewis said, “and there’s beachfront property on 19th Street.”

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He pointed to a spot on the San Diego Freeway near the Harbor Boulevard exit, where his drivers reported two separate five-car collisions.

“Those accidents were definitely weather-related,” he said. “Otherwise, people wouldn’t have been sliding across the freeway like that. . . . After the first rain the roads are quite slippery with the combination of water and oil.”

Dale said one of his tow-truck drivers was changing a customer’s tire on the southbound side of the freeway when a pileup occurred on his side. Northbound drivers gawking at the accident instead of the road caused another accident, Dale said.

With the rain come more calls to change people’s tires, a task Dale said some people would do themselves if it wasn’t raining. Slippery roads add to the dangers they already face on the freeways.

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“Any time you’re on the freeway you have to be careful,” Dale said. “Don’t put your feet out on the roadway and never take your eyes off of oncoming traffic.”


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