JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Both collision and towing/wrecker services in Johnson City have seen an increase in vehicles damaged from winter-weather-related incidents.
Workers at Browns Mill Towing & Recovery as well as Tri-City Collision Center said that many of their calls are coming from people who’ve had vehicles slide off the side of the roads.
“A lot of times it’s undercarriage damage or suspension damage for where they’ve ran off the road, ran into a ditch or whatnot,” Matthew Dykes, lead estimator at Tri-City Collision Center, said. “But then a few, rear-end collisions or T-bones for not being able to stop. But most of the time it’s running into the ditch.”
Dykes, said the business had 15 to 20 calls about damaged vehicles and around six towed to the shop within the last day. He said they expect many more to come in over the next few weeks.
“They will start trickling in,” Dykes said. “Takes a little time to process claims with the insurance and then obviously set up tows and stuff like that.”
At Browns Mill Towing & Recovery, Manager Paul Parker said their phones have been ringing nonstop all week.
“We’ve started prioritizing calls, working mainly emergency calls those stuck in the ditch,” Parker said. “Those at home, we’ve asked to kind of wait till the weather clears. As they’re already somewhere safe. These other people are, of course, out in the elements a lot of times without them running.”
Parker said they are averaging 75 calls a day, and they still can’t get to some vehicles because of the ice and snow.
“We’ve seen everything from a minor hit the curb and bust a tire to up to 20 feet over a bank on its top, just in this last week,” Parker said. “We’ve seen as many as seven cars off in one spot that we couldn’t even get to because of the ice and had to wait for salt trucks and stuff to come through so that we could even get in there to begin to get anything out.”
Parker said they will continue to get vehicles that they couldn’t reach when the weather clears. He asks that customers be patient as they work to retrieve vehicles since they have this heavy demand.
Both Dykes and Parker advise people to not drive in this inclement weather, if possible.
“We’re pretty good about calling our customers and rescheduling them, just assuring them they’re not going to lose their spot,” Dykes said. “Just to get out when it’s a lot more convenient or safer for them.”
Parker recommends drivers keep blankets and road salt in their vehicles in case they’re in an accident or they get stuck.
“A lot of times you can put down the salt and start treating it a little bit before even a wrecker driver gets there so that maybe the wrecker driver’s not sliding and can get you out safely, and salt may help you get out safely,” Parker said. “Blankets in case your car’s not running. And if we can’t get to you right away, kind of important to stay warm.”