AAA leaves couple stranded for 8 hours in Missouri heat

Published: Jul. 6, 2022 at 2:59 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

RICH HILL, Mo. (KCTV) - What started as an unfortunate incident for a Kansas couple turned into a daylong nightmare, and it could have been worse.

Early Tuesday morning, Susan and Roy Coleman were driving along I-49. A tire blew out near Rich Hill, Missouri, causing the car to slide into a guardrail. The tire rim was bent, so simply putting a spare on wouldn’t work. They weren’t too concerned — they’re AAA members. They called them for assistance and were told help was on the way. So they waited — and waited, and waited.

You’ll recall it was hot on Tuesday. At 7:30, when their ordeal started, it was 79 degrees. But as the day went on, the temperature reached 97 with a “feels like” temperature or heat index of 106.

Susan checked in with her son, who was at work hours away. He wasn’t too concerned initially, assuming help was on the way. But, he was wrong.

“Leaving people on the side of the road with no services for eight-plus hours on a 100-degree day is just unacceptable,” their son, Chris Coleman, said. “And, that’s just what... that’s the real takeaway for me.”

Susan called AAA repeatedly and kept hearing that they were “next in line.”

“I called them like 15 times,” she aid. “‘What’s going on?’ and nobody had an answer.”

Fortunately, the couple had a few sodas and some chips to help sustain them — but no bathroom.

Chris Coleman tried a workaround.

“I called and talked to somebody in New Jersey,” he said. “They said they were trying to call the people in Missouri, but Missouri wasn’t answering the phone. My ultimate goal is just to get them off the side of the road, get them home. That’s all I wanted.”

In frustration, Chris called KCTV5.

“After I got a hold of you guys, then all of a sudden they said, ‘Okay, we’ll get a tow service there.’”

So, after waiting eight hours, a tow truck arrives.

“We’re mad at AAA,” said Susan.

So is her son. He’s filed a formal complaint with the Missouri Attorney General, questioning their business practices and adding they’re “putting the lives of my senior citizen parents in jeopardy.”

It just shouldn’t get to that point and that’s my issue,” said Chris.

We contacted AAA about it, and they sent this response:

The Colemans were grateful to Missouri State Highway Patrol. They stopped to check on them and even stayed with them for hours. They also put the spare tire on their vehicle, but the rim was too damaged to drive on.

The patrolmen eventually left to help other people and believed help was on the way. AAA kept telling the Colemans they were next on the list.