THE END

AMANDA FRIZZLEY 1981-2007

She loved animals and driving her tow truck, and customers liked the young, pretty driver too

COLIN CAMPBELL October 22 2007
THE END

AMANDA FRIZZLEY 1981-2007

She loved animals and driving her tow truck, and customers liked the young, pretty driver too

COLIN CAMPBELL October 22 2007

AMANDA FRIZZLEY 1981-2007

THE END

She loved animals and driving her tow truck, and customers liked the young, pretty driver too

Amanda Frizzley was born on March 26, 1981, in Winnipeg. The eldest of two girls—her sister, Stacey, came two years later—she was a fiercely independent child without much interest in dolls or toys. At age four, the redhead with big blue eyes insisted her parents teach her to read so she wouldn’t have to rely solely on them for her bedtime stories.

Her father, Craig, worked as a heavy truck salesman and her mother Janet, drove a school bus and was a driving instructor. From early on, Amanda developed a fascination with big trucks. She would spend time around the dealership with her father, and his company would at times sponsor monster truck exhibitions.

“She just couldn’t get enough of those big trucks,” says Craig.

When Amanda was five, the family moved to Ile des Chenes,

Man., just outside Winnipeg. The rural setting helped fuel Amanda’s other obsession in life: animals.

She was always bringing home or rescuing strays: dogs, cats, even frogs, and once a baby rabbit she called Fritz. She kept it all summer, and it slept on her bed. By the fall, her parents insisted the by then rather large rabbit be returned to the wild. “That was very traumatic for her,” says Janet. As a teenager, she started horseback riding, and spent hours at the stable.

Even as an adult, Amanda continued to bring home strays: a cat she found in a clothes dryer in her apartment building, a huge bullmastiff dog that was wandering the streets in the middle of the night (which she kept for a month as she painstakingly searched for, and eventually found, the dog’s owner). In her apartment in Winnipeg, along with two cats, Mai Tai and Phang, she kept a fish tank with 62 fish. Each and every one of them had a name, says Janet.

Amanda always wanted to be a veterinarian. But after graduating from Steinbach Regional Secondary School, she decided to try living on her own and working in Winnipeg. She had a number of office jobs—at a call centre, as a receptionist at a medical clinic. None were right for her. Her parents were a bit worried but hardly surprised when three years ago, at 23, Amanda announced she wanted to be a towtruck driver. Her childhood love of trucks had never faded (along with being a vet, she often talked of being a long-haul trucker). Although female tow-truck drivers were almost unheard of in Winnipeg, Amanda was eager and had the requisite experience with big trucks. “It was her

cup of tea and she was good at it,” says Nick Roscoe, one of the owners of Dr. Hook Towing, where she worked. Amanda was well-liked by the small fraternity of Winnipeg tow-truck drivers. And she held her own. She became known for the hugs she doled out and for her huge smile, say colleagues. Soon enough, customers were calling and asking for that young, pretty driver, says Rob Campbell, who hired Amanda for her first job. “It certainly didn’t hurt our business.”

On one call, Amanda arrived to find a “capable, strapping man”

in need of a tire change, recalls Craig. When the man saw her pull up there was some protest and no shortage of wounded pride, he laughs. “She loved trucking so much,” says Janet. “She liked putting the chains on the cars, getting grease and dirt on her. That was the real Amanda.” She wore an old grease-stained toque to keep her long red hair out of her face. It almost made her look like a street person, laughs Janet. But what mattered most to her was helping people, she adds.

Last summer, Amanda bought an old 1986 Chevy van and announced she was moving to Calgary to drive a tow truck for the Calgary Stampede security detail. For Amanda, it was the best of both worlds—trucking and animals. “She went there and slept in her van. She’d call every week and say, ‘it’s the most fantastic thing ever,’ ” recalls her mother. After a short time, Amanda returned home to be closer to her family. Amanda always liked the handsome police and firemen she saw at the accidents she was called to, but the crash scenes affected her, says her father. “She really took to heart accidents.” Amanda often told her mother and sister, also a driving instructor, to promise to tell their students about speeding and drinking and driving.

Two weeks ago, Amanda was working the night shift in downtown Winnipeg, clearing illegally parked cars along with another driver she was helping to train. At around 4:30 a.m., she was headed to one last job. As she passed through an intersection, a GMC Jimmy truck, speeding at over 100 km per hour the wrong way down a one-way street, slammed into her, flipping her tow truck upside down. She died later in the hospital. The driver of the other car and Amanda’s passenger were injured, but survived. At the end of last week, the police were still investigating the crash.

COLIN CAMPBELL