CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee(WDEF) - A local Tow Truck company is under two investigations following last weeks horrific looking accident when a truck and camper plunged off a Ridge Cut overpass.
It all started last Tuesday morning when Dorthy Nicholas of Brevard County Florida and her friend were involved in an accident in which the truck and camper they were hauling plunged 25-feet off an interstate overpass.
Dorthy Nicholas and her friend were transported to the hospital and later released. The truck and camper were towed towed away by All-In-One Towing.
Now Ms. Nicholas and her husband are accusing the towing company of theft.
The Florida couple told WDEF there was a gun tucked away in a lock box, GPS, digital and video cameras and other valuable items that were inside both the truck and camper. They claim those items are no where to be found and they believe All-In-One Towing is to blame.
"All those thing were missing when she reappeared the next day to retrieve them at the salvage yard," said James Nicholas.
According to a Chattanooga police report, a .38 Taurus revolver is missing. The report goes on to say that when Dorthy Nicholas went to retrieve the hand gun, which was reportedly secured in a Nano Vault Lock Box, it was no where to be found.
The couple is also looking for A $650 tow bar hitch. According Mr. Nicholas, his wife was reportedly told by the wreckers that the hitch was broken into three pieces during the crash and thrown away.
A witness who wished not to be identified for fear of retaliation was snapping pictures of the crash scene that Tuesday morning and told WDEF a different story.
"Me and another person walked up there and went down on the end and the tow bar was still laying there intact with LP tanks. I saw it with my own eyes and it was not broken into three pieces," said the witness.
"When my wife asked where is all of our stuff, they said it was all broken so we threw it all away. It's my under standing that a wrecker service under Tennessee law and most states is to preserve your property. It's not their call to discard or throw away your property," said Mr. Nicholas.
Dorthy Nicholas reportedly called her husband who was in Denver to let him know what was missing and that she and her friend were having a hard time retrieving those items. Mr. Nicholas said he contacted the owner of All-in-One Towing to see if he and his wife and her friend could look for the missing items his wife could not find the day after the accident.
"He told me he would gladly meet me there and I said even though it was the 4th of July and he said yes I'll meet you there. He said call me when you get in town and I did."
Mr. Nicholas said when he called, the owner told him he was on a service call so Mr. Nicholas reportedly told the company owner they would wait for him. Nicholas said soon after hanging up, a tow truck driver entered through a vehicle gate. He said his wife tried to get his attention by entering through a side gate.
"He completely ignored her. The next thing we know they're bolting out and closed the door to their shop and bolted out the back gate," said Mr. Nicholas.
While Ms. Nicholas was inside the yard, she took the license plate off her truck. Then the owner of the company arrived while she was on his property.
Mr. Nicholas said the situation turned ugly when he and his wife were accused of breaking and entering and reportedly told they could not have access to their damaged camper.
"Rather than get involved in a confrontation, I left the scene and went to the Chattanooga Police Department."
Nicholas filed a police report. Since filing that report, he received a cell phone message from Paul Bailes who owns All-In-One Towing.
"I want to let you know I'm pressing charges for coming into my lot," the voice message said.
WDEF talked to Mr. Smith who refutes the couples claims and says he bent over backward to accommodate them.
"If I found a gun, it would be in their possession. I gave them their cameras and everything they say they're missing," said Bailes.
He went on to say, "I went through extra precaution to make sure these people just got their clothes that was laying in the woods. I did everything I could to get these peoples property and I spent four and half hours and if you really want to see this Florida couple, where they broke and entered. They came into my property and broke into my property and I got it on tape."
Bailes showed WDEF that video tape.
Ms. Nicholas, her husband and their friend were clearly seen out side the front gate. At one point, Ms. Nicholas was seen inside the property after she came in through a side gate. What WDEF did not see was her trying to alert a tow truck driver whom her husband said ignored her.
Investigators told WDEF that prior to this incident, they have never received a complaint about All-In-One Towing.
Right now the two year old company is under a criminal investigation as well as an investigation by the city wrecker board to make sure the company has followed proper procedures.