On Your Side: 82-year-old woman stranded for 12 hours needing a tow

CBS47 On Your Side

FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) – An 82-year-old woman from Lemoore was driving along I-5 when her truck broke down. She pulled to the side of the road, called AAA Insurance, then waited for a tow for 12 hours.

“From one nightmare to another, that’s the way I figure it,” Maria Katashima said.

It’s bad enough breaking down on the side of the road but being stranded there hour after hour, as day turned to night, Maria says it left her scared for her life.

“No bathroom, no water, nothing to eat,” Maria said. “To this day, I am still not sleeping right.”

Maria was traveling with her son down I-5 in her pickup truck when she heard a pop.

She pulled the truck to the shoulder of the road then called AAA, the insurance company she has been with for 32 years. A representative told her a tow would be on the way – then an hour passed with no word from a tow company.

“I called back AAA and they said okay we’ll get you another service and we went through this over and over.”

They tried another service.

Another hour would pass before a call came in from a tow truck driver.

“The one call came in and they said they didn’t have the truck to tow us at that time.”

Meanwhile, Maria and her son sat on the side of the road. Her son wished he could do more for the woman he admires most.

“I can’t even describe, the tears in my eyes says it all,” Marty said talking about his mother. “I’m choked up and I’m never lost for words. She has so much courage. So much fight in her.

The phone battery was slowly draining along with the car battery.

“The flashers were barely blinking and they gave out.”

Now sitting in pitch black on the side of a busy highway, 10 hours since the initial call to AAA.

“We waited another hour or so, for another company, over and over, if we didn’t go through 7 or 8 calls, an hour to 45 minutes apart,” Maria said.

She would wait 12 hours for a tow truck to finally arrive.

“What good is my membership for having it so long and needing them in my time of need done me? What happened in my time of need?”

She was finally off the side of the road when things went from bad to worse. Maria paid the tow company $400 out of pocket – then AAA sent her a notice that they denied reimbursing the $400 tow.

That’s when Maria called us and explained her situation.

“The only time I have gotten an answer is from 47 on your side,” Maria said.

We reached out to AAA who tells us her experience is definitely “not the norm” and they “strive to make things right where our service does not live up to their expectations.”

We were able to get Maria her tow refunded and an offer of a free AAA membership for a year.

“I’m thankful they heard me out, and hopefully this won’t happen to other people.”

If you need us on your side, call us at 559-761-0383 or email us at OnYourSide@cbsfresno.com.

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