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Posted on Fri, Dec 28, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

Ann Arbor's snowy weather kicks off busy season for tow trucks

By Kyle Feldscher


Jim Stokes of Budget Stadium Towing lowers a Jeep Grand Cherokee off of his flatbed tow truck after towing it to a mechanic's workshop in Ypsilanti on Thursday, Dec. 27.

Courtney Sacco I

When the first snowflakes of winter fall on Ann Arbor, Billy Salamey knows it’s about to get pretty busy for his tow truck drivers.

Salamey, owner of Budget Stadium Towing, said his business started getting a lot of calls on Monday as a Christmas Eve snowstorm came into the area. A couple days later, more than six inches of snow fell on the Ann Arbor area and Salamey’s trucks were responding to area roads to help out drivers who were stuck in various unfortunate states.

Salamey said between 20 and 25 cars had to be pulled out of ditches during the storm Wednesday and Thurdsay and his drivers also helped out a jack-knifed semi truck Thursday morning. However, he said it could have been worse.

“If this wasn’t a holiday week and the kids weren’t all gone, it would have doubled or tripled,” he said.

He added, “If it was the second week of January, it might take eight or nine hours for us to get someone out there.”

Salamey said there were more accidents on Monday, when a smaller amount of snow fell. When there is a smaller amount of snow on the ground, drivers get the impression they can drive normally. However, the cold weather can glaze the roads with ice and make it more dangerous, he said.

When there’s a heavy snowfall like Wednesday’s storm, that can actually prevent accidents because drivers can’t go as fast as they’d like to, he said.

“People feel comfortable driving in it because it doesn’t look that bad and that’s how they lose control,” he said, referring to Monday's lighter snow. “When there’s a substantial snowfall like (Wednesday), they can’t go that fast even if they wanted to.”

Salamey emphasized the need for good tires and windshield wipers during winter weather and encouraged drivers to watch their speed and leave enough space between other cars.

While there were a number of people spun out in ditches on the sides of area roads during the storm, Salamey said no one had to be rescued from particularly perilous situations.

He said he knows of instances where farm tractors have had to tow vehicles back to the roadway after they’ve ended up too far into the snow to be helped. Nothing like that happened Wednesday or Thursday, but with New Year’s Eve celebrations not far off, he’s prepared to be pulling cars from strange places.

More slippery roads could be in the picture for Ann Arbor Friday with a 60 percent chance of snow and Saturday with a 40 percent chance.

“There were no adventurous ones but that might change on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day when people get more excited,” he said.

Kyle Feldscher covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Sat, Dec 29, 2012 : 1:01 a.m.

Wow. A jeep being towed? How sad. Give me the 4 wheel to get out of that mess any day of the week. I wonder if the dunes are up and running?


Sat, Dec 29, 2012 : 12:15 a.m.

Budget towing pay their office staff 8.00 per hour with no overtime after 40 hours.I can't imagine his drivers are paid much more.I will never call them!


Sat, Dec 29, 2012 : 2:50 p.m.

If they are union and obama care is in effect? They probably can't afford much. Look at Hobby Lobby. They are getting stung by something no one wants. I think one state is trying to out law it. I wish them luck.

Robert Granville

Fri, Dec 28, 2012 : 3:19 p.m.

"People feel comfortable driving in it because it doesn't look that bad and that's how they lose control," he said, referring to Monday's lighter snow. So true. On the way to Kalamazoo for Christmas, I was going 50-55 through an area of I-94 that was covered in small patches of black ice. I actually had to switch lanes to avoid the guys behind me going a full 70. My car slipped a bit just trying to change lanes and they still didn't get the idea that they should slow down. I made it home just fine. I can almost guarantee that 1 of those 6 or 7 cars did not.

Robert Granville

Fri, Dec 28, 2012 : 6:31 p.m.

You're right Brad but my point was it was unsafe to be going any faster than maybe 60 at the time I was driving. The majority of cars were going at safe speeds of 60 or less. I was passed by 6 or 7 cars over a 90 minute span. I passed hundreds going even slower than I was.


Fri, Dec 28, 2012 : 3:56 p.m.

You were driving below the speed limit and had to change lanes to avoid being an impediment to traffic? Good. That is what the right lane is for.

Homeland Conspiracy

Fri, Dec 28, 2012 : 3:53 p.m.

Funny as I too drove to Kazoo for xmax (on xmas day)& never saw or hit any black ice or any other kind of ice on any part of I94 from A2 all the way to Kazoo. If I remember right it was very sunny & nice out. All the solar panels @ Firekeepers were turned to the sun (all but 1 it must of been broken)


Fri, Dec 28, 2012 : 2:34 p.m.

but it is when they make their big bucks


Fri, Dec 28, 2012 : 3:55 p.m.

Actually for the weather-related towing they probably charge something competitive. When you're towed under the city contract they get to charge extortion-level rates, so that's where they make their BIG bucks.


Fri, Dec 28, 2012 : 2:23 p.m.

Yesterday afternoon there was still a car sitting in the Jackson Road median that had plowed down a couple of small trees.

Ann English

Fri, Dec 28, 2012 : 11:59 a.m.

When I read the headline, I thought that "busy season for tow trucks" meant towing parked cars out of the "snow routes" so that snowplows can remove as much snow as possible from the streets. I remember one story from two winters ago in which a woman's car was BURIED in snow as it stood parked for too long in one place. It may have taken place during the snowy February of 2011. Such towing away of parked cars could happen this winter, if we get enough snow. Hopefully sufficient forewarning will be heard if and when (actually, BEFORE) emergency snow removal plowing takes place.


Fri, Dec 28, 2012 : 11:58 a.m.

Whew! My car had been parked for 13 minutes over the allowed 48 hrs. This will give me a chance to move it. Because the tow trucks are busy pulling cars out of ditches it gives everyone a little wiggle room. Use this extra time wisely!