A mother says she finally has some closure nearly three years after finding out the truck her son died in was still on the road, being driven by a young family, despite her belief it had been donated to a local fire department.
Patty Marciano’s son, Jamall, died of an overdose in the back seat of a Honda Ridgeline truck in 2016.
The truck was taken to Clover Towing, and Marciano said she was told the truck would be donated to either a fire department in Surrey or Langley for training purposes.
But because of biohazard issues, Marciano said she later discovered it was instead sold to a salvage company for parts, “not realizing that it was going to be on the road.”
It was in 2016, three months after it was apparently supposed to be donated, that Marciano said her ex-husband saw the truck in the parking lot at Willowbrook Mall. She said the truck has a “very distinct” scratch on the roof of the vehicle.
Marciano, who moved to Calgary after Jamall’s death, said trying to figure out how the truck ended up back on the road “opened up a whole bunch of can of worms.”
Now, nearly three years later, Marciano said she wanted closure and “some kind of truth to the whole situation because for two years I haven’t had any truth.”
“I’m glad the truth came out and I got some closure, but it hurts. I’m relieved in the sense that I have the truth. I know that I’m not imagining that my truck’s on the road,” Marciano told the Now-Leader.
Surrey-based towing company, Clover Towing, is now apologizing and implementing a new policy due to the situation.
“It was towed in our yard, and then it sat here for a bit,” said Kit Moller, owner of Clover Towing.
Eventually, he said Marciano came to the office to sign the vehicle over to them.
“This, I think, is where the trouble started,” he said. “From what I pieced together, she came in and said, ‘I don’t want this vehicle,’ signed it over to us and one of my staff members said, ‘Oh, we donate some of them to the fire department and they use them for training purposes, using Jaws of Life equipment or simulated burns. We donate them free of charge to fire departments in Surrey and in Langley…. So she was happy with that and had hoped that’s what had happened to the car.”
But, as Moller explains, that didn’t happen in this case, noting it couldn’t be donated due to “biohazard contamination.”
“It would put the firefighters at risk when working on the vehicle. It was sold as salvage, parts and what have you.”
Moller said his best guess is that the person who bought the vehicle replaced the interior and drove it themselves, or sold it. Having said that, Moller added that he wants to apologize to the family.
“I feel really bad. I’m a father of three boys and I can only imagine the hurt that she feels. She doesn’t want a constant reminder of the tragedy in her family. I feel bad in the way this miscommunication has brought this hurt to her. I apologize. I never wanted a situation like this to happen again, it’s kind of a rare one off situation but in order to make sure this doesn’t happen again I’ve implemented some new procedures when people sign over vehicles so this doesn’t happen again.”
Moller said new policy at Clover Towing requires employees automatically deem the vehicle “salvage only” on transfer forms going forward in cases of major crimes, suicides or death so those vehicles are “guaranteed not to make it back on the road.”
In an email to his staff, new rules stipulate that “when the next of kin or an executor of a will come into sign over a vehicle that has been involved in a major crime, suicide, death or murder and they state ‘they do not want the vehicle to be sold’ and only crushed, you need to write ‘S’ in the vehicle status of the transfer form. This means that the vehicle cannot be put back on the road and is for salvage only.”
Moller said that after speaking with Marciano, Clover Towing has donated $1,000 in Jamall’s name to the Union Gospel Mission’s drug and alcohol support program. Moller said Jamall “spent a year of his life” at the mission.