Towing trouble: Is Lethal owner back in biz?
Mention the words "Lethal Wrecker" around Charlottesville and chances are you'll find someone with a story. For nearly a decade, the towing operation, and its owner, George Morris, earned a reputation for aggressive tactics including allegations of intimidation and overcharging, as reported by the Hook. Lawsuits ensued, including one by the City of Charlottesville, and Lethal lost its AAA contract only to reinvent itself in 2007 as an entity called Cavalier Towing, with Morris' mother at the helm. While Cavalier eventually shut down, Morris is still around, and one man says he had a run-in last winter that was reminiscent of the Lethal days of yore.
Harry Carter, a retired Sprint employee, says he parked at the Ferncliff Exxon on Kent's Store Road in Louisa County in late January after, he says, a store employee told his daughter that while the family traveled to Charlottesville for a UVA basketball game it would be okay to leave the vehicle "as long as it wasn't blocking anything."
However, when the 70-year-old Carter returned that night to retrieve his vehicle, he says it was gone. But not far. In fact, it had simply been towed around to the back of the building, where an operation called G&A Auto and Wrecker Service had allegedly moved it. When he called the number posted, Carter says, a man answered and told him it would cost $125 for what amounted, Carter recalls, to a less than 400-foot-tow. The man demanded cash, which Carter says he didn't have.
"I was so angry," says Carter, who says he called Louisa Sheriff's department to have a deputy meet him at the service station and oversee the vehicle return to ensure the process went smoothly. Carter alleges that when the tow truck operator arrived, he told Carter the fee would actually be $150. Carter recognized him as Morris and informed him that the deputy was also on the way. Morris then departed and refused, Carter claims, to return the vehicle that night– for any amount of money.
"I had my car towed from Henrico County for less money than that," says Carter, who notes that the cost of his Henrico-to-Louisa tow was less than $100– and that the receipt he received when he retrieved his car the next day didn't show G&A Auto and Wrecker but rather J&M Wrecker, with a Charlottesville address.
A reporter called listings for both G&A Auto and Wrecker and J&M Wrecker and found George Morris at the latter shop. A man answering the phone at G&A said Morris was "out sick." Despite the word "wrecker" in the name of both firms, Morris asserts that he doesn't perform public towing any more.
"I'm a repair shop now," says Morris, who became increasingly irate over the course of a conversation.
"I tow for myself," said Morris, declining to answer questions about Carter's tale of tow.
"What's the problem?" he asked before hanging up. "Why do you care?"
There are plenty of local vehicle owners who might offer an answer for that.