Wrecker-less driving. Tow trucks grounded in Mt. Vernon - Tri-State News, Weather & Sports

Wrecker-less driving. Tow trucks grounded in Mt. Vernon

Reporter: Shannon Samson
New Media Producer: Nick Storm 

With snow in the forecast, you can bet vehicles will be sliding off the road. And if that happens in Mt. Vernon, the cost of getting a tow truck has now doubled.

The only two towing services in Mt. Vernon are closed because their owners are behind bars on drug charges. That means wreckers will have to make the trip from Evansville or Poseyville to get your car.

The owners of the only two towing companies in Mt. Vernon used to work together a couple of years ago, but had some sort of falling out and parted ways. After that, they didn't just compete for business, they were competing for meth customers too, according to the sheriff, and now their actions will end up costing everyone.

After sheriff's deputies pulled over Donald Stallings on January 7th for a busted light, they say a K-9 found drugs and a weapon in his car. That led to a search of Stallings's business, D&D Towing, where officers say they found an active meth lab.

With D&D closed, its chief rival became the only towing service in town. The monopoly ended four days later when city police checked out a tip of a suspicious odor coming from Mt. Vernon Towing.

Police say they found meth precursors and arrested owner David Crowe. Posey County Sheriff Jim Folz says, "They've really put a bolt or so, if you would, in the gear there. It slowed me down quite a bit."

Now, with both businesses closed, deputies will have to call in wreckers from as far away as Poseyville or Evansville to respond to accidents. Sheriff Folz says, "To get a tow service down here to relieve the officers from the scene to go work another accident or a burglary or a theft, the time element is big."

Deputies may be answering calls slower, while citizens will be parting with their money faster. Wreckers driving 20 extra miles into Mt. Vernon will charge as much as $90 to recoup the fuel expenses.

Sheriff Folz isn't sure how long this will go on, but he does know Stallings and Crowe will never work for the county again, no matter how well he knew them before their arrests.

Sheriff Folz says, "A lot of times, what a meth dealer and a coke dealer will do is befriend the police because the best place is close to the police, because maybe they won't suspect you as much."

Always suspicious, both city and county officers have wanted to arrest the suspected drug dealers for quite some time, but not both at the same time.

Both men are still in jail. Even if they get out soon, the sheriff speculates they won't have much of a business to go back to since they won't be getting calls from law enforcement anymore. Those make up the bulk of their business.  

The sheriff says he's gotten dozens of calls about other companies taking over, but he doesn't sign contracts and requires the businesses to have several qualifications, so not everyone can do it.    

Since our story aired, a viewer called 14 News  to say Strobel's Automotive Repair offers towing services in Mt. Vernon.   The business, however, is not listed in the business section of the phone book.    

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