Deep freeze keeping tow trucks busy - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Deep freeze keeping tow trucks busy

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When the temperatures drop, the calls go up at AAA Mid-Atlantic. The auto club had road crews out all night and all day rescuing thousands of drivers in the deep freeze.

On routine days, tow trucks and service crews jump start batteries and tow disabled cars. Then there are days like this when the calls keep multiplying.

"I should be there in 30 minutes or less," Travis Williams tells a motorist.

He has been driving a tow truck for AAA the past two years.

"This is the first time in a while I've seen this many calls on my screen," he said.

We rode along with Williams and his partner and they went from one distressed motorist to the next and the calls never seem to stop. When he pulls up on the shoulder of I-295 near Hyattsville, he takes a look the car. It had overheated and steam was pouring out. He quickly finds the issue.

"She's leaking coolant bad,” he said.

As temperatures hovered most of the day in single digits, Kevawanna Bennett felt the chill as she waited.

"I have on about three layers, but my toes started to get a bit nippy," Bennett said while warming up in the cab of the tow truck.

That's one down. Between midnight and 3:30 p.m. in Maryland, Virginia and D.C., AAA Mid-Atlantic received more than 3,000 calls.

Drivers stranded on the side of the road in the cold got priority over those with a disabled car in the driveway. Ric Blackwell didn't mind the wait. He didn't have to work and stayed warm inside his girlfriend's apartment while he waited for AAA to arrive.

"I tried to come out here turn it on. It wouldn't start," he explained. "I called around 9:30 a.m., about 9:38 a.m. They said someone would be out by 11:18 a.m."

When Williams pulled up, he checked under the battery under the hood. According to AAA, about one out of every three calls it got Tuesday was for a dead battery. Within a few minutes, he had the charger and cables hooked up, and with one turn of the key, the engine came to life.

"That was good," Williams added.

Minutes later, the car drove off.

Others were not as lucky. One car got towed to Danny's Auto Body and Repair in Hyattsville after a problem with the ignition couldn't be fixed.

"I got nowhere to park them right now," owner Danny Pironto said.

The frigid weather is good for the auto business. Danny's Auto Body is doing five times the usual number of repairs.

"I've had a whole lot of calls this morning. Cars on the side of the road, overheating. Blown hoses. Had a few calls, locks stuck, couldn't get in the car," he rattled off.

He’s got enough business to last into next week and he's got more waiting.

It's more than enough to keep the tow trucks on the road.

"They are my superheroes for the day!" gushed Bennett, after being rescued along I-295.

Looking at the number of calls and the still chilly temperatures, these heroes' job is far from done.

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