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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingJune 26 - July 02, 2019

Semis Juice-Boxed in California

0 b66c1By Jim "Buck" Sorrenti

Trent Lee Butzlaff is the owner of Plaza Towing in Palm Desert, California, which he purchased from his parents in 2004. Butzlaff and his wife, Kathy, have successfully grown Plaza Towing into the Coachella Valley's premiere towing service, and one of the largest towing firms in Southern California.

Their son Trent Andrew Butzlaff, 19, represents the third generation; he lives and breathes towing and recovery like his father and grandfather before him.

"Technically I'm not Trent Jr. My dad is Trent Lee Butzlaff and my middle name is Andrew, but my nickname around town is Junior. ... This is my life, I grew up in this business and it's all I ever wanted to do," Junior said.

On Aug. 29, 2018, Plaza Towing was called by the California Highway Patrol under Super Heavy Rotation. Under the rotation, CHP requested that Plaza respond to southbound SR 86/84th Ave. in Thermal, for two semis rolled over. Plaza initially responded with their 35-ton Jerr-Dan mounted on a 2015 Peterbilt 567 driven by Heavy-Duty Manager Darl Young.

Upon arrival, Young saw that one semi was facing northbound in the southbound lanes and the other was facing southbound on the right shoulder. The truck that was facing northbound was originally traveling northbound when the driver lost control and rolled it over into the center divide. The truck then proceeded to slide on its side into the southbound lanes, clipping a loaded container-chassis going southbound, causing it to roll over as well.

Mohica Towing of Cathedral City handled the container-chassis.

Young assessed the situation and saw a heavily compromised trailer that was fully loaded with approximately 35,000 lbs. of fruit juice. The trailer was compromised to the point that it required a full off-load of the product in order to upright.

"Darl called for the following resources: 10 men to offload the product led by our Light-Duty Manager Kirk Tozi; our 2001 Peterbilt 389 with three-axle Landoll trailer loaded with our Grad-all telescoping-boom forklift; and a 2014 Kenworth W900 with 48' reefer," Junior said.

While Young waited for the offload crew to arrive, he hooked onto the trailer and winched it back into the center divide to open the southbound lanes and create a safer work environment for the Plaza recovery crew.

Once Plaza's crew arrived, they began the repalletizing of the salvageable product which was then transferred into their refer trailer via the Gradall and pallet jack. Once completed, they brought their 16' dump trailer out to the scene to pick up any remaining unsalvageable product.

"Once the off-load was complete, Darl rigged two low lines to the tractor and trailer and began winching the tractor upright," Junior said. "Because of the trailer being compromised, we used our Gradall to support the side of the trailer wall as it was being uprighted, eventually leaning the wall into the trailer for transport. We then separated the units due to the severity of the damage."

Young then called for Plaza's 2010 Peterbilt 389/Century 9055 50-ton, driven by operator Roberto Castellanos, to tow the tractor. Young towed the trailer. With everything loaded up, the convoy of Plaza Towing equipment proceeded to their Indio location where everything was stored. The next day the salvaged product was then trans-loaded from Plaza's reefer to the customer's trailer.

"During the whole recovery process we used Sonetics Headsets providing on-scene safety communication to allow constant communication between our crews," Junior said. "Local photographer Ceasar Rodriguez took these awesome photos. He really captured the moment. ...

"Plaza Towing is very active on social media, including YouTube, where we post weekly videos of our work from winch-outs, tows and recoveries."

Show Yours @ TIW
Do you have a recovery to share with TIW readers? Send some pics and info to our Field Editor Jim "Buck" Sorrenti at ; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman magazine!
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