By Alex Lloyd Gross
Two competing tow truck drivers at the scene of a minor accident became involved in a confrontation at the scene on Whittaker Ave. near Hunting Park Ave. According to the code on the streets, the first tow truck on scene gets the pick of the litter so to speak, the newest or most damaged vehicle, leaving older model vehicles to their rivals.
When Jose LaTorre Jr. arrived at the accident scene in an Escalade he pulled his vehicle over and began to try to get those involved to go with him. He is the son of the owner of J & Son’s Towing . The owner of J& Son’s repeatedly told the media and police when questioned that his son no longer works for him. “He’s got his own Personal Injury business going on”. Everyone at the scene admitted that LaTorre was not planning to tow any vehicles with the Escalade.
When Angel Carrera arrived, driving a tow truck for Mystical Towing, Latorre told him to move his truckand take off. An argument ensued and Latore allegedly pulled a pistol and shot Carrera in the leg. Carrera drove himself a few block to a local police station and collapsed. He is expected to survive his injury without any serious after effects.
LaTorre ran from the scene and is the subject of a police manhunt. A warrant will be issued for his arrest later today. He is well known to police in that area.
Latorre may have been driving the Escalade to help stake out the scene for another tow truck to arrive or he could be shilling for lawyers or doctors. Police will figure that out when he is arrested. In spite of a tow rotation policy in the city, it is not enforced frequently . Tow truck drivers do provide a valuable service as they are on scene and can get the vehicles off the road fast. That means a cop can hit the streets faster to prevent crimes, as opposed to block traffic.
When the tow rotation is used, officers have to stay at the scene as a tow truck on call has to respond to the scene within 20 minutes. That means the driver will speed through the city , from the northeast to get to west Philly in 20 minutes.
In this particular accident, one driver drove his vehicle away and a tow truck from a different company took the other vehicle. If convicted, Latorre faces a minimum of five years in prison. He has a prior arrest record.
The business of towing vehicles in Philadelphia is cut throat, especially at crash scenes. Mystical Towing has a reputation for staking out private lots and towing peoples vehicles that park there momentarily, then holding the vehicle for a small kings ransom of $200.00 plus storage. That’s the maximum they are permitted to charge by law. Many police complaints about Mystical Towing are lodged where they operate, police said. Mystical Towing has lot patrols in various areas of the city, especially in North Philly. As far as accident scenes go, both Mystical and J & Sons are permitted to be on the list tow list for rotation.
Parking Lot enforcement , like Mystical is known for is not as lucrative as accident scenes, where the tow driver gets a percentage of the repair cost.