Erich T. Doerr | Review Correspondent
Evidence storage can be a lengthy process and when it requires additional off-site placement it can get pricey.
That’s the issue Clare County is facing right now after a fatal traffic accident required the storage of the pickup truck and motorcycle involved as evidence at the request of the prosecutor. The vehicles both spent over a year stored at the respective towing yards before the case finally made its way through the legal system with the towing companies now looking for compensation.
The truck was stored with Harrison’s Double T Towing while the motorcycle was stored by Midstate Towing also of Harrison. According to Double T’s owner, who declined to be identified for this story, he has not been paid for the storage of the truck.
The controversy over the issue regards the size of the bills. According to the owner both vehicles ranked up storage bills of over $10,000 because of the length the companies had to keep them. He added Midstate discounted the storage down to $3,000 and received $2,500 from the county alongside $500 from the bike’s insurer. On the other side of the coin he said he also sent a bill to the county discounting the price to a similar $3,000 only for the issue to be brought up for discussion at the county’s Board of Commissioners meeting.
“I know the county doesn’t have that kind of money,” the owner said of why he didn’t charge the full $10,000. “It’s the same scenario and the same accident… Why is my bill in controversy and his not?”
The vehicle in question was an older Chevrolet pickup truck involved in a fatal accident with a motorcycle that killed the bike’s rider. According to the owner the accident was a bad one and the cleanup involved not only towing away the two vehicles but also an extensive effort to remove debris and spilled oil from the road afterward.
According to the owner he had the truck for over a year and a half before he was finally given permission to dispose of it. After contacting the family of the owner the truck was eventually sold for scrap. The owner said he received $185 for the metal and that is the only money he has received regarding the case.
Typically in cases like this there is a payment from the insurance company to cover storage. According to the owner while this occurred for the motorcycle it didn’t for the truck as the vehicle was uninsured at the time of the accident.
The owner added that the truck’s driver went to prison as a result of the case with part of his sentence including paying back some of Midstate’s storage costs. He added Double T’s costs were not included in the verdict and he felt a little like a ghost at lack of recognition for his company’s services.
“(Midstate) stored the space of one pallet and I stored the space of 10 pallets,” the owner said. “I feel the bill (I asked for) is of equal comparison of what Midstate did.”
According to the owner Midstate was paid by the county after submitting a pay sheet to the prosecutor. He added its owner then called him after he was paid and suggested he take a similar course of action which he did at first with no issues before it was discussed by the board.
“I don’t want to see the county go broke,” the owner said. “If they paid one company they need to be fair and pay both.”
According to the owner Double T has been in business for 6 years and has a two-truck fleet. He said he has done a lot of work for county both towing their police and ambulance vehicles after breakdowns and assisting on other service calls such as workers locking themselves out. He added he has done all of his previous emergency vehicle related work for free and has never mailed the county a bill before now.
“I do quite a bit just towing their vehicles,” the owner said.
One of the reasons this issue came up is because the Clare County Sheriff’s Office does not have a secured area to store vehicles leaving them and others to turn to tow yards for the service. The owner said for example he has the room to safely store over 100 vehicles between several locations but added he is not against the sheriff’s office getting their own yard down the road.
According to the owner he does not plan any further action, legal or otherwise, against the county regarding the issue.