‘Preying on people’: Woman faces 2nd whirlwind with towing company following tornado

‘Preying on people’: Woman faces 2nd whirlwind with towing company following tornado

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Charmaine Bennett has strong words for the owner of Smart’s Towing in Chesterfield after she says her car was towed from the Victorian Square shopping center after the EF-2 tornado ripped through.

“You knew this was a disaster, you are preying on people," Bennett said. "You should be ashamed of yourself.”

Bennett was inside Planet Fitness on Monday during the storm and described the moment she will never forget.

“It got extremely windy and we started seeing cars flying and the room caves in on the inside," Bennett said. "That’s how we knew it touched down.”

At one point, people inside thought the end was near.

“Myself and everyone in the gym had the thought of ‘This is it, we aren’t going to get out of this building,’” Bennett said. “Coming back here and seeing this is a very sobering experience. It’s a lot."

She says after the storm passed, Chesterfield police made everyone evacuate the area because of a possible gas leak.

Her car was blocked by a flipped car and downed light so she left it there and went home. When she came back later that night to get her car, it was gone.

Workers clean up debris in front of Planet Fitness left behind by the tornado Monday.
Workers clean up debris in front of Planet Fitness left behind by the tornado Monday. ((Source: NBC12))

Bennett said she found her car about 2 miles away behind a fence at the towing company. That’s when she was hit by another whirlwind.

“He told me we aren’t releasing your car because we are still talking to the police. He also said something about evidence and I’m going 'what evidence? It was a tornado.” Bennett said.

Bennett says the company demanded she pay $100 for towing cost and an additional $50 for other expenses.

“I was furious because I was told by police to leave it.” Bennett said.

Bennett called police and Wednesday they sent an officer to the towing yard to help release the car.

Chesterfield police apologized for the incident and paid the fees to have the car released. After surviving a deadly tornado, Bennett’s mindset has shifted.

“Don’t take any day for granted," Bennett said. "Whatever arguments you have, it’s not worth it.”

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