Soldiers Save Towman's Life
Two Soldiers from Company A of the 715th Military Intelligence Battalion, 500th MI Brigade in Hawaii, are being recommended for Soldier's Medals for their roles in helping save the life of a towman who had been hit by a vehicle in February.
Capt. Benjamin Huzzey of Co. A, 715th MI Bn., who made the recommendations, said he was grateful his soldiers were there to respond to the call of duty to assist on the morning of Feb. 23.
"Undoubtedly, their military training and experience assisted them in their timely response to what was a very serious situation," he said.
Sgt. Timothy Sirko went to pick up Spc. Tyler Gardiner on the morning of Feb. 23 because Gardiner had been rear-ended by another vehicle on and needed a ride.
Gardiner had not been injured in the incident, and the police had already taken a report and left. The tow truck driver had arrived at the scene to tow his car.
Around 6:30 a.m. the soldiers heard tires squealing, a loud crash and a man screaming. Gardiner ran to Sirko and told him to help. Sirko rushed to the towman, Valentino Tua, who had been hit by a passing vehicle. Gardiner said Sirko assessed the situation and took action to help the injured tow truck driver while a bystander called 911.
Sirko noticed Tua appeared to be trying to move his legs, but they were clearly broken. He and Gardiner dragged him to a patch of grass about 10 feet away from the road and applied digital pressure to the his groin area to stop the bleeding.
Gardiner assisted Sirko by rubbing Tua's sternum and asking him questions to keep him conscious until the ambulance arrived.
Sirko has remained in touch with Tua's family, offering support in the aftermath of the ordeal.
Tua's wife, Nani Tua, said her husband had to have his right leg amputated and remains in critical condition.
"He's fighting to keep his other leg," she said. "There's nothing we can do but just hope that he pulls through."
Nani Tua, who is pregnant with her husband's first child, said she is grateful for the support of Sirko, who has visited her husband at the hospital.
"I just really want people to take into consideration that tow truck drivers are just trying to clear the road and keep people safe," she said. "Just take into consideration they have to do it even if it's not in a safe location.
"If your car broke down, they're the ones who would come and try to help you, try to get the road clear again," she explained. "I just wish people thought about it like that."
According to the Honolulu Police Department, the case is still under investigation, and no arrests have been made at press time.
Oregon Looking at [b]New Tow Regulations
Auto-theft victims, who can face steep towing and storage fees to get their stolen vehicles back, would get some help under legislation being considered in Oregon. In general, the bills and proposed amendments would:
• Allow law enforcement agencies to provide towing companies with contact information for owners of recovered vehicles. Towers currently get that information from the Driver and Motor Vehicle Services Division, which can take days and lead to steep storage fees.
• Allow owners of recovered stolen vehicles that are considered totaled to surrender their title to the tower and walk away from a vehicle without further charges. The process currently takes about 30 days and can leave owners owing money to the tower in excess of the value of the vehicle.
• Require towers to receive written, signed authority from the parking facility's owner or agent before towing. Currently, the tower can contact the facility owner to initiate the tow.
• Require towers to provide vehicle owners a photograph showing the vehicle parked in violation. Current law requires towers to take the photo, but not to show anyone.
• Prohibit vehicles from being towed unless a sign in plain view prohibits or restricts public parking.
• Require towers to tow to the nearest available facility to avoid unnecessary mileage charges.
• Clarify when a "hookup" is complete. Towers can charge a hookup fee even if they have not yet towed a vehicle.
• Add certain towing provisions to acts enforceable as unlawful trade practice, and create a civil process for vehicle owners or operators to challenge the validity of a tow.
Members of the Oregon Tow Truck Association testified in support of some of the provisions, such as getting vehicle owner contact information from law enforcement agencies.
But they objected to creating a civil process, saying it would overburden the court system. Instead, they support forming a complaint resolution committee, similar to one used in Montana.
They also recommended changing Oregon insurance regulations to require companies to cover towing and storage.
"Someone in our profession would have to be pretty heartless to not understand the personal loss someone can experience when they have their car stolen," said Mike Wagner, past association president and owner of Santiam Towing & Recovery in Lyons.