Towing co. owner: worst visibility ever

February 16, 2015
Cars lined up on U.S. 31 expressway near Pentwater. Photo by Justin Ray/MCP

Cars lined up on U.S. 31 expressway near Pentwater. Photo by Justin Ray/MCP

By Allison Scarbrough. Contributing Editor.

LUDINGTON — Chuck Leonard, who owns Oceana Auto and Abrahamson’s towing companies in Ludington and Hart, has been in the towing business for about 55 years and said the Valentine’s Weekend storm was the worst he has ever encountered as far as visibility.

The storm created worse visibility conditions than the historical Blizzard of ‘78, Leonard said.

The storm was so bad that at one point seven out 10 of his tow trucks working during the storm were stuck, he said. An Abrahamson’s truck was hit head-on Saturday afternoon by a southbound semi-truck on Pere Marquette Highway near Conrad Road in Pere Marquette Township. The tow truck was pulling a Mason County Sheriff’s Office patrol car out of the ditch. “The patrol car had been responding to numerous traffic crashes on the US-31 Freeway when he ran off the road and became stuck in whiteout conditions,” Sheriff Kim Cole said. There were no injuries.

MCP had initially been informed that it was an Oceana Auto truck, but Leonard clarified that it was an Abrahamson’s

Custer Fire Dept. personnel stop traffic along U.S. 10.

Custer Fire Dept. personnel stop traffic along U.S. 10.

truck. It is a brand-new Ford F550 truck valued at $94,000, Leonard said. “It was the first thing it ever hooked onto to,” he said. The truck received extensive front-end damage estimated at $4,000-$,5,000. “It’s fixable,” he said.

Leonard said his tow truck drivers worked all night, helping stranded motorists. “We never quit,” he said. Eventually, it got to the point that the tow truck drivers would pick up the stranded motorists and take them home, leaving the vehicle behind, he said. The towing companies had to use a 3,500-ton wrecker to pull out a Mason County Road Commission truck Sunday and an Oceana ambulance involved in the 30-car pileup on US-31 in Muskegon Saturday.

Both Oceana and Mason counties pulled their road commission plow trucks off the roads Saturday evening, and sheriffs in both counties urged residents to stay home. The Mason County Sheriff’s Office was reporting a six-hour wait time for towing services.

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