December 19, 2014

Elyria
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Dead batteries, frozen lines offer challenges to tow crews

Kevin Linden, a driver for Elyria Towing, jump-starts a car battery on Pennsylvania Avenue in Elyria on Tuesday. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

Kevin Linden, a driver for Elyria Towing, jump-starts a car battery on Pennsylvania Avenue in Elyria on Tuesday. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

ELYRIA — Being a tow truck driver helping stranded drivers Tuesday was a very cool job.

At 4:50 p.m. Tuesday the temperature was 3 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

Linden uses a tablet to check on service call updates.

Linden uses a tablet to check on service call updates.

Mug’s Elyria Towing driver Kevin Linden had spent 45 minutes in the driveway of Mark Wilson’s Pennsylvania Avenue home unsuccessfully trying to start Wilson’s 1998 Chevrolet Blazer.

When Linden’s portable jump start box didn’t work on the Blazer, he pushed it several feet down the driveway and tried to jump the Blazer with cables from his van. The Blazer sputtered, but wouldn’t turn over.

Linden suspected a frozen fuel line.

“This is the kind of fun I get to have,” Linden said.

With subzero and single-digit temperatures on Monday and Tuesday, Elyria Towing was scrambling. The company at 225 S. Abbe Road handled 86 calls Monday and about 100 Tuesday, according to dispatcher Dawn Shupp. On a day with typical weather in January, the company handles about 50 calls per day, according to general manager Rocky Kelley.

Shupp said Monday and Tuesday were among the top-five-busiest days since she was hired in 2004. The average wait for drivers was eight to 12 hours.

“Most of the people understand and are willing to wait,” said manager Tom Linden, Kevin Linden’s brother. “Then they’re ecstatic when we show up 10 hours early.”

Linden uses a portable unit to jumpstart a car battery in the Apples parking lot on South Abbe Road.

Linden uses a portable unit to jumpstart a car battery in the Apples parking lot on South Abbe Road.

Nearly all the calls were for dead batteries, frozen fuel lines or stuck doors from frozen locks. On most calls, drivers were back on the road within five minutes, according to Kevin Linden.

However, on several occasions, cars had to be towed. Wilson was given the option of a tow when his Blazer wouldn’t start despite Kevin Linden working on it for about 50 minutes.

Linden then spent about 30 minutes working on Erica Martin’s 2004 PT Cruiser stuck in the parking lot of Apples, 230 N. Abbe Road, where Martin works. The work was complicated by a stuck prop that made Linden unable to close the hood.

Martin had left the parking lot after the she couldn’t start the car at 2 p.m. So Kevin Linden had to wait for her for about 15 minutes in the freezing cold to drive through rush hour traffic in her mother’s car.

Despite the aggravation, Kevin Linden remained patient and polite.

“I’m not a superhero,” said Linden, 37, of Elyria. “You’ve got to kind of roll with the flow and I’m here to help.”

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com