Towing is not an easy job, but Todd Menzel knows how important it is. For 21 years he and his brother, Tim, have been operating Prairie Land Towing Company. In that time they’ve helped countless drivers whose vehicles broken down or gotten stuck.
When a recent winter storm swept through Wisconsin, the dangers associated with that job became clear.
The brothers responded to a call of a semitrailer off the road on Interstate 90 east of Madison. Todd was hooking the semi up while Tim stayed in the cab of the tow truck. Police cars were also on the road.
“All of a sudden I looked in my mirror, my passenger mirror, and I see this white Subaru coming,” Tim said. He said he sounded the horn on the tow truck to warn Todd.
“It was like seconds and all of a sudden I see him (Todd) in my mirror flip up in the air. I lose him in my mirror and he came back down into my mirror, and then I watched the car proceed farther into the ditch and hear the car hit the trailer. Then at that point I kind of broke down because I thought he was gone,” Tim said.
When the car hit Todd, it threw him into the air and he landed on the hood of the car. He apparently then slid off the front of the car and went underneath it. The car stopped up against the side of the semi.
“It was dead silence when I was hit, and I didn’t even know I was hit until the car was on top of me,” Todd said.
Todd was able to crawl out from underneath the car on his own. He was taken by ambulance to an area hospital where he was treated for bumps and bruises and released. He also realizes how lucky he is to not have been seriously injured or killed.
“It was rough. I’ve got three kids at home, a wife, a brother, a mom. I lost my father when I was 12, and all I could think of was I didn’t want my kids to lose theirs,” Todd said.
They hope their story will convince more drivers to obey the Wisconsin law that requires motorists to move over for emergency and highway maintenance vehicles. Tow trucks are included as emergency vehicles.
“It takes seconds to kill somebody. It takes years to get over that,” Todd said.
While drivers of disabled vehicles are not included in Wisconsin’s law, both Todd and Tim believe drivers should do that.
They understand better than most the dangers that come with not moving over and driving too fast.
“You need to slow down and move over because you never know what is going to happen,” Tim said.
Investigators with the Wisconsin State Patrol and Dane County Sheriff’s Office are investigating the incident. The name of the driver of the vehicle that hit Todd has not been released.