POLICE Magazine

MAY 2019

Magazine for police and law enforcement

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34 P O L I C E M AY 2 019 P olice call in tow trucks for removing a damaged vehicle from a traffic ac- cident, impounding a vehicle, or recovering a stolen vehicle. But regard- less of what reason a vehicle is being towed, hooking up a vehicle or loading one onto a flatbed truck can be a dangerous process that can lead to great bodily injury or death to persons standing or working in the deadly "roll- away zone." e following are some specific incidents that illustrate these dangers. In June 2018, a San Francisco city utilities worker was working in a ditch to repair a water pipe break. At the repair's location, the police were impound- ing cars. A contracted tow company responded to do the job. As one of the vehicles was being loaded onto a tilted carrier's deck, its winch reportedly let go, causing the vehicle to roll off and over the top of the city worker. Paramed- ics rushed her to the hospital where she died from her injuries. In February 2019, a Port Hueneme, CA, police officer responded to a three-vehicle accident. As the officer was working the crash, she was critical- ly injured after a minivan being winched onto a flatbed carrier somehow de- tached and rolled down the carrier's deck, pinning her underneath another vehicle and resulting in injuries that could have been fatal. In May 2003, a port worker at a marine harbor facility in Baltimore reportedly drowned after being trapped inside a sedan that rolled off of a flatbed carrier and into the Patapsco River as it was be- ing moved to an awaiting cargo ship. e 23-year-old was in the driver's seat of the late-model vehicle when the winch that was keeping the vehicle on the carrier's deck detached, and the vehicle rolled approximately 50 feet and into the water. It's been documented that as many as 30 tow truck operators have been killed in roll-away accidents involving their trucks or the vehicles they are towing. In many cases of tow operator fatali- ties, OSHA reported that the tow truck drivers failed to employ chock-blocks to PHOTO: GET T Y IMAGES BEWARE OF TOWING HAZARDS ALWAYS BE ALERT AT SCENES INVOLVING TOW TRUCKS AND AWARE OF THE DANGERS PRESENT DURING IMPOUND AND WRECKED VEHICLE REMOVAL OPERATIONS. H RANDALL C. RESCH THE WINNING EDGE Winching a vehicle up onto a flatbed carrier seems like a very simple operation, but it can be very hazardous.

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