Tuesday, June 15, 2010

U.S. trade rep Kirk hurt as loose ladder comes through windshield on I-30

U.S. trade rep Kirk hurt as loose ladder comes through windshield on I-30

12:00 AM CDT on Thursday, June 3, 2010

By SCOTT GOLDSTEIN / The Dallas Morning News

Former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk said he is lucky to be OK after a freak accident sent a metal ladder through his car windshield Wednesday morning.

Kirk, the U.S. trade representative, was driving west on Interstate 30 near Belt Line Road at 11:20 a.m. when he saw the ladder fly from under a tractor-trailer and bounce off a median.

The ladder cut his left biceps as it came into his car.

"It was very scary," Kirk said by phone Wednesday evening. "I could not be more blessed to be here. ... Six inches to the right, six inches above, it's a very different story."

Kirk was released from Methodist Dallas Medical Center after receiving stitches. He said he did not suffer nerve or bone damage.

A passenger in the car was not injured, Grand Prairie police said.

Police said the ladder apparently fell off a vehicle a few minutes before Kirk drove through the area. The tractor-trailer traveling ahead of Kirk "struck the ladder, causing it to fly into the air and come down through the windshield," traffic Sgt. Eric Hansen said in a written statement.

Officers were already en route in response to a report of a ladder on the freeway when the accident occurred, Hansen said. The tractor-trailer driver did not stop.

Debris from truck injures woman

Staff Report - Published: June 6, 2010

SOUTH BURLINGTON – Debris that fell from a tractor-trailer truck owned by a West Rutland company injured a Bristol woman on Friday afternoon, according to the Vermont State Police.

Gerald Catterall, 57, of West Rutland, was driving the truck, which is owned by G. Bowen Excavating, police said.

According to a press release, the truck was going south on Interstate 89 carrying crushed cars. A brake rotor came loose from one of the crushed vehicles and went through the windshield of a 2007 Lexus sports utility vehicle being driven by Genevieve Trono, 25, of Richmond.

Trono was not injured, but her sister, Juliana Folino, 21, of Bristol, a passenger in the SUV, suffered lacerations and bruises on her right arm.

Folino was treated at the scene by the Williston Fire Department and St. Michael's Rescue Squad and then taken to Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington.

Police said Catterall was stopped at Exit 11 in Richmond by a Department of Motor Vehicles inspector.

According to police, the G. Bowen Excavating company was under suspension at the time of this incident.

Citations were issued to the operator and the company for operating under suspension, and driving with an improperly secured load and an uninspected trailer.

Tacoma men become truck-covering experts

TarpX: Tacoma friends learn the ropes of taking something – a load-securing device for pickups – from the idea stage to the marketplace

Read more: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2010/06/06/1215151/the-coverup-experts.html?mi_pluck_action=comment_submitted&qwxq=3479570#Comments_Container#ixzz0quLFeGk5

Published: 06/06/1012:05 am | Updated: 06/06/10 1:29 pm
Comments (12)

Read more: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2010/06/06/1215151/the-coverup-experts.html?mi_pluck_action=comment_submitted&qwxq=3479570#Comments_Container#ixzz0quLJQncb

A metal shelf flies from the back of a pickup in Shoreline and kills Gavin Coffee, 43. Sandy Harmon, 23, swerves to avoid a tarp that flew onto Interstate 5 in Tacoma and he dies in a collision. Seven members of the Bellevue High School football team are hospitalized after their bus overturns when avoiding an unsecured ladder. A pick ax tumbles from the back of a pickup onto Interstate 405 and sails through the windshield of an SUV.

Unsecured loads – cans of paint, tools, rocks, furniture, ladders, pipes, plywood and other debris – regularly fall from the backs of pickup trucks. There’s a law against it, but still it happens.

Three Tacoma friends think they have a solution.

They have developed a product they call TarpX, which recently went onto the shelves at Costco.

For Dan Kinley, “It was just a thought I had.”

He was in high school near Yakima and one day in 1995 drove to Seattle. “I had to re-tie the tarp five times,” he said.

The idea lingered, quietly, for nearly a decade.

“Being from Eastern Washington, we did a lot of stuff with trucks,” said Trevor Colby, president of the Tacoma-based company that makes and markets TarpX.

“We were always dealing with bungees, ropes. Then Dan had an idea.”


It’s simple enough – so simple that someone might wonder why someone else didn’t think of it first.

TarpX is essentially a thin blanket made to cover a load in the bed of a pickup truck or a trailer. It is constructed of a ripstop nylon fabric that has been sewn to include elastic ribs – some lateral, with extra-strength elastic in the “X” – that compress a load.

Properly tied and hooked to the truck or trailer, TarpX, the business owners say, will not flap in the wind and will not allow the release of objects that can injure, maim or kill other drivers.

But success requires more than just a good idea.

“We’ve gone down roads, and we’ve gone back and started over,” said Kinley.

In the beginning, he said he and Colby contacted “one of those inventor’s help lines. We basically blew $6,000.”

After “spinning our wheels,” he said, they contacted their friend Mike Walters, who is versed in such business matters as marketing and branding.

Colby and Kinley know about some areas of business – they own a commercial real estate office in Tacoma – but they were novices as to making, marketing and succeeding with a new consumer product.

“We knew it was a solid idea – it can save lives,” said Colby. “But where do you go from here? You have no idea where to go.”


Patrick Raymond, executive director of the nonprofit, New York-based United Inventors Association, estimated last week that 50,000 independent inventors file patents every year in the United States.

“There’s no hard data on the success rate, but the industry agrees it is somewhere between 1.5 percent and 5 percent who ever make their money back,” he said.

“They’re not good odds.”

He said that an inventor could expect to invest at least five years before an invention caught the interest of a major retailer.

“The difference between an idea and the invention is the work,” he said.

Colby, Kinley and Walters have done the work. They have also invested their own money. Add money – they are reluctant to say how much – invested by family or friends.

A minority partner in the venture, marketing expert Mike Walters said he recognized TarpX could become a successful product.

“I knew there was something there,” he said.

His initial research showed more than 38 million registered pickups in the United States – plus some 30 million utility trailers. He found that Washington recorded the country’s 10th-highest number of registered pickups – with 1,070,208 in 2007.

He also found that 25,000 accidents in the country, and nearly 100 deaths, could be annually attributed to vehicle-related road debris.

The original TarpX was patent-pending when the three Tacoma men decided to try for the next step.

“We knew we could do better,” said Kinley.

They hired a Seattle engineering design firm to develop and refine the product.

“Most people who think of ideas – they think somebody else must have thought of it first,” Kinley said.

“You have to have faith,” said Walters.

“It’s exciting, something that started from nothing,” said Colby. “I was so excited when I saw it for the first time on a pickup.”


“Once you get into Costco, it does give you credibility,” Colby said.

“We are out there constantly looking for those products that meet our needs and meet our customers’ needs,” said Mike Parrott, Costco vice president for hardware and automotive.

The company sells TarpX in stores in the Puget Sound region as well as in Colorado, Arizona and Southern California.

Parrott said he has spoken with the Costco buyer who approved the deal for TarpX.

“She has seen the product. She has tried the product, and she has bought the product,” he said.

Which makes it sound simple.

“Being on the shelf – they are in the last and most nerve-wracking part,” said Patrick Raymond, of the inventors association.

“Being on the shelf is different from flying off the shelf,” he said.

He did seem surprised by the success so far. “It’s exceedingly rare that a retailer will accept a single-SKU (single-product) company,” he said.

Most inventors who get this far, he said, license the product to an experienced manufacturer or marketing firm.

The most difficult part of the process for Colby was finding a company that would produce TarpX to exact specifications.

“Sourcing a manufacturer was the toughest part,” he said. “We hoped to say ‘Made in the U.S.A.’ but the cruel reality is that it would have cost us three times as much.”

“We’ve used four different sourcing firms for manufacturing,” said Kinley.

“For the big retailers,” said Walters, “we need approvals on working conditions, environmental, and child labor. They have to have a track record of delivery.”

“We had representatives in China,” said Kinley.

Finally a Chinese manufacturer was selected.

The first manufacturer just couldn’t meet product standards. The others were rejected for financial reasons.

And there were some things the trio never thought to consider.

Factories had shut down because of the poor economy and dwindling demand for exports. Some factories closed for a brief period during the tea-picking season, when workers can earn a relatively higher wage by going out into the fields. Shippers have mothballed ships, thereby reducing the supply and increasing the demand for – and the cost of – cargo space.

“You’re at the mercy of everyone else,” said Kinley.

But still it sells.

Along with Costco, TarpX sales representatives have contacted other major retailers. The product is for sale on the company website. Much of the sales today come from word-of-mouth.

“It’s amazing how this has reached the East Coast,” said Kinley.

Walters predicts that the parent company, Load Control Systems Inc., will produce 50,000 units this year – and by the end of the year, the three expect to generate a corporate profit.

“We want to see a TarpX on every pickup on the road,” said Kinley.

“It’s a neat feeling,” he said. “You’re helping people. You’re seeing something of yours on the shelf in stores. It’s neat to see we’ve taken an idea and made it reality.”

Said Colby, “Noting beats the school of hard knocks.”

C.R. Roberts: 253-597-8535



The product:

• A covering made to secure and compress loads in pickups and utility trailers

• Made of heavy-duty ripstop nylon; the X and lateral ribs comprise strong elastic; secured by tie-down hooks and bands

• Cost: About $50 at Costco; more on the TarpX website, www.tarpx.com

The company:

• Produced by Load Control Systems Inc. of Tacoma

• Officers include founders Trevor Colby, 34, president; and Dan Kinley, 33, secretary, both from Selah; and friend Mike Walters, vice president. All three live with their families in the Tacoma area.

• Day job: Colby and Kinley own a commercial real estate firm

Why TarpX could make a difference:

• In Washington between 2004 and 2008, there were 28 fatal collisions involving loose objects that struck a vehicle.

• “How many times do you drive and see a mattress on the side of the road? You can get a sense of what’s not being secured that easily can be picked up by the wind and take flight,” said Kim Schmanke, spokeswoman for the state Department of Ecology. “It would be worth it if only one accident was prevented.”

• In 2009, there were more than 290 collisions on Washington roadways caused by debris that fell from a vehicle. Those collisions caused 42 injuries, three very serious, according to the Washington Sate Patrol.

• Washington State Patrol Sgt. Freddy Williams was driving with his wife near Salt Lake City when a metal object came flying toward his windshield. “I’ve been shot at before. This was absolutely as bad,” he said.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

3 U-Haul employees arrested for trafficking in stolen property

Note: If the employees were selling stolen Utility Hitches.... Who installed them onto

3 U-Haul employees arrested for trafficking in stolen property

More Phoenix Local News
05:10 PM Mountain Standard Time on Thursday, January 15, 2009
Chandler Police Department
The following is a press release from the Chandler Police Department:

CHANDLER-- In December of 2008, an off duty Chandler Police Officer went to a U-haul store, located at 1375 N. Arizona Ave., in Chandler, to purchase a trailer hitch for his vehicle. David Kinsley, an employee of U-haul assisted the officer and told the officer if he came back the next day, he would make him a better deal on the hitch.

The off duty officer left the store and reported the incident to the Chandler Police property crimes unit. The Chandler Police Property Crimes unit began a month long investigation which resulted in the arrest of Brandon Edwin Brummer, a 25-year old Mesa resident, Jarrod Eugene Vincent, a 32-year old Mesa resident as well as David Kinsley, a 19-year old Mesa resident for felony theft and trafficking in stolen property.

During the course of the investigation, detectives purchased over one hundred items, valued at approximately $10,000.00 from Brummer, the store manager for the hitch center.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Law says tie litter down

Sgt. Michael Leutert of the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office takes photos of an SUV he pulled over that was carrying an unsecured load. Below, Sgt. Leutert speaks with two people inside a white Chevrolet pickup truck about securing their load after pulling them over on Dover Road. (Photos by Jamie Dexter/The Leaf-Chronicle)

Law says tie litter down

By JAMIE DEXTER • The Leaf-Chronicle • August 24, 2008

A white pickup with a load of tree limbs and debris flies down Dover Road.

With nothing securing the debris, they flutter in the wind, dangerously close to flying from the back of the truck.

Sgt. Michael Leutert, of the Environmental Enforcement Unit of the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office, flips on his lights and follows the truck, pulling it over.

"If tree limbs fall into the middle of the roadway, people might swerve and hit another car, another kid or something and wreck," Leutert said earlier about another vehicle. "That's why we have (the 'tarp law'). ... It needs to be tied down."

The state law Leutert refers to requires anyone carrying material in the back of a pickup or on a trailer — be it limbs, debris, trash or anything else — to secure it "as to reasonably ensure it will not fall or be blown off the vehicle."

This could mean covering it with a tarp if the debris is small, or tying larger pieces down with cables.

With some debris, safety isn't the only concern — some trash can be harmful to the environment or require road crews to clean up the mess.

"I've seen construction debris where someone tore out walls, and it's covered in pink insulation, and that stuff flies off going down the road. How many years do you think it takes for that stuff to decompose into the Earth?" Leutert says. "Basically, it'll have to be picked up."

Leutert added that even with two litter buses, it's amazing how much debris and garbage is on the road, even after the road has been cleaned by workhouse inmates.

"A percentage of this waste comes from people not securing their loads," Leutert says.

Leutert said in the five years he's been enforcing these laws, word has gotten around, and he's seeing more and more people securing their loads, but he says he still has to work to educate people about the laws.

Some don't know about the laws, he says, and some just don't care.

"Some people just don't have a clue," he says. "So I have to be the person that gives them a clue ... ignorance of the law is not an excuse."

If someone who has a load that should be covered and secured is pulled over, that "clue" could end up amounting to around $500 in fines, court costs and community service.

"It could end up being at least $700 for not doing a simple thing to help keep the roadways clean," Leutert says.

For those hauling other loose material in smaller amounts, the material has to be four inches below the the walls of an open bed, according to state law.

Being pulled over in violation of that law can amount to around $201 in fines and court costs.

And if anyone knowingly throws litter, including cigarette butts, onto the road, they can be fined.

Leutert says when he patrols, he checks to make sure people carrying a load have done whatever they can to keep anything from falling into the road.

"You can easily tell after doing this a while who does and who doesn't," Leutert says. "The penalties for not following state law are pretty severe. Tennessee does not take kindly to litter."

While some, including those in the white truck, might drive away with a ticket in hand, fuming about the fines they will be paying, Leutert says it's all for a good reason.

Says Leutert: "The sheriff (Norman Lewis) and Pete Reed, director of the Bi-County, and myself all have a common goal — to keep Montgomery County cleaner and, in return, safer by continuing efforts in the Environmental Enforcement side of the law enforcement house."

Jamie Dexter covers crime and entertainment and he can be reached at 245-0216 or jamiedexter@theleafchronicle.com.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Wayward Trailers Hit Random Targets

Note: Please take note of this section:

Decades ago, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration made proposals for federal standards on hitches and requiring safety instructions for motorists who would tow trailers. These proposed federal regulations were resisted by manufacturers and rental companies, and US transportation authorities finally dropped them in 1972.

The next time you meet or follow a truck towing a trailer on the highway, you should be very wary and steer clear. The trailer could easily separate from the truck, and you could be in trouble.

Unbeknownst to many motorists, runaway trailers have caused a number of devastating crashes across the country, resulting in deaths and serious injuries.

There are no statistics on a nationwide scale on accidents caused by runaway trailers. There have been reports that recorded 540 trailer crashes from 2000, causing deaths to at least 164 people and injuries to hundreds more. These are sketchy numbers and probably are huge understatements of the actual frequency.

Majority of the victims in wayward trailer crashes are helpless motorists. The trailers, once they break loose, become like unguided projectiles running into an oncoming vehicle. In some cases, oncoming vehicles trying to avoid the speeding trailer crash into other vehicles instead. Trailers have also hit pedestrians, including children waiting at a bus stop, or rammed into bedrooms.

Many crashes are the result of neglect: the failure to follow proper precautions and safety procedures in attaching the trailer to the truck. A 2006 survey on 300 trailer owners found that a majority did not even know how to attach a trailer’s safety chains properly. Most lacked knowledge of basic safety methods and proper towing practice.

There are federal and state regulations on commercial trailers. But there is virtually no federal regulation, and only haphazard state rules, on smaller trailers.

Decades ago, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration made proposals for federal standards on hitches and requiring safety instructions for motorists who would tow trailers. These proposed federal regulations were resisted by manufacturers and rental companies, and US transportation authorities finally dropped them in 1972.

State regulations are almost nonexistent, and where they exist there is no active enforcement. A number of states do not require safety chains — which are the most fundamental protection — for light-duty trailers. But accident reports show that safety chains, when used, were too rusted or worn to do much good.

For bigger trailers with brakes, many states require a backup system that automatically applies the brakes when a trailer comes loose. But accident reports also show that in many accidents such systems were not operating because the battery that supplied the system power was dead.

There are a few laws, but there is no one enforcing them.

Safety experts say motorists should be required to qualify for a special license in order to tow small to medium-size trailers. Currently, in all 50 states, you only need to have a basic driver’s license to tow.

Safety tip:
* Make sure the trailer is securely hitched to the tow vehicle. A trailer’s coupler will not hitch securely if it is wider than the hitch ball on the tow vehicle.
* Always attach the safety chain. It keeps the trailer attached in case the hookup fails.
* When buying a trailer, ask your dealer for proper techniques and instruction on hitching trailers. Many techniques are common sense, but some are not and need special instruction.

Motorists beware of trailers' risks

Q: There are many people with trailers on the road these days. Not just small trailers, but horse trailers and other large units as well. People need to be on the lookout for trailers, and should know how not to drive around them: Aggressive driving and cutting off vehicles pulling trailers is particularly dangerous. Trailer-haulers can't stop on a dime, and it takes considerable space for them to make turns or change lanes. Other motorists need to give them enough room.

Jacqueline Greener


A: Good points, Jacqueline.

The Warrior has a true confession tale to relate wherein he nearly caused a horrific accident simply by failing to put the brakes on his temper.

On Interstate 78 eastbound, east of Harrisburg, near dusk, the Warrior was ''boxed in'' for what seemed like forever (probably five minutes) by a guy in the passing lane to his left, maintaining the Warrior's too-slow speed without reason.

By the time the full-size sedan finally inched ahead, the Warrior was so frustrated he resolved to zoom dramatically into the passing lane, right behind the car, the instant its rear bumper cleared. His thinking went along the lines of, ''I'll show this guy what I think of his driving!''

Perhaps by instinct, the Warrior must have glanced left at the last instant, and there was enough light remaining to illuminate the outline of one of those low, steel-frame trailers -- this one bearing a snowmobile.

Jerking the wheel back to the right, the Warrior stayed in the travel lane for a few more seconds until the trailer cleared. He'd nearly slammed his car directly into its side, snowmobile and all. The insane maneuver, fueled by an absurd sense of vengeance, likely escaped the trailer-tower's notice.

This story illustrates the roadway mentality to which many of us succumb at one time or another, emotion overtaking clarity of thought. Something about modern-day vehicles and driving conditions can bring out the worst in us. A conscious, sustained effort is needed to overcome this tendency -- an effort the Warrior tries to make, not always with success.

The experience also illustrates how dangerous it can be driving trailers, and driving among them.

Accident statistics comparing civilian trailer-towing to single-vehicle driving are rare, and controversial. U-Haul, for example, contends that towing a trailer actually is safer than traveling unattached, but a Los Angeles Times report last year revealed considerable skepticism of the claim from traffic-safety experts.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration advises motorists new to the trailer-towing game to practice in parking lots or in low-traffic areas before hitting the road for real.

Terry Ritter of Schaeffer's RV Super Store in Shoemakersville, Berks County, said store personnel take buyers for short test drives to make sure they gain some sense of towing practices. And safe-driving procedures and road conditions are discussed at monthly owners' clinics, he said.

NHTSA offers a truckload of safety tips for folks towing trailers.

For general handling, the agency recommends moderate speeds (translation: slow down!) to minimize trailer sway and instability, not to mention wear and tear on the vehicle doing the pulling. Trailer towing can be tough on engines and transmissions.

Experts also caution against sudden starts, stops and steering maneuvers, and note that motorists pulling trailers need to make wider turns to avoid bumping or crossing curbs with the trailer's tires.

(That's also the answer, incidentally, to a query from Vince Julian Jr. of Nazareth as to why some motorists, even those without trailers, make a slight jog to the left before turning right at intersections. It's intended to gain a better angle for the turn, to avoid hitting the curb with the right rear wheel. But wheel-strikes are rare for average-size cars, and the ''hook'' move to the left is not recommended for general practice.)

Allowing ''considerably more'' stopping distance with trailers, and slowing in anticipation of stops, by downshifting for example, are advisable braking practices. Passing on level terrain, allowing extra passing distance, and ensuring the trailer clears before returning to the travel lane are among NHTSA's other recommendations.

Tips and information about backing up and parking, and other trailer safety advice are available from the agency's Web site, and from numerous trade groups.

''Regular'' motorists with trailers in their midst should observe the familiar rules regarding civilian trailers' big brothers, tractor-trailers, Ritter said: Don't follow too closely behind -- if you can't see a trailer's outside rear-view mirrors, the driver can't see you.

With some common sense, and with mutual awareness among trailer-towers and the rest of us, we can hope to travel together without incident.

Just watch out for those snowmobile trailers.

Road Warrior appears Mondays and Fridays. E-mail questions about roadways, traffic and transportation to hartzell@mcall.com. Please include your name and the municipality where you live. Or, write to Road Warrior, The Morning Call, 101 N. Sixth St., Allentown, PA 18101-1480.