Tow truck driver sprayed with mace during confrontation, then arrested

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. —

A tow truck driver was sprayed with mace and then arrested during an altercation along International Drive in Orange County, according to authorities.

Authorities said Nate Nelson drove a party bus from Tampa, dropped his guests off at Señor Frogs and then parked outside a Don Pablo's before running down the street to a convenience store.

When Nelson returned 10 minutes later, he said, Riker's Roadside Service was getting ready to tow the bus.

"I chased after him, told him to stop, and then after he saw me, he just kept going," said Nelson.

Nelson says he jumped in his bus and slammed on the brakes to get the tow truck to stop. That's when tow truck driver Gregory Nickerson confronted him.

Authorities said the two men argued, and Nelson offered Nickerson $50 to unhook the bus, but Nickerson refused.

"He wanted to show some power over it, it seemed," said Nelson. "He said it was his bus at that point."

When a second Riker's employee showed up, Nelson claims he feared for his safety, so he sprayed them with mace.

Sheriff's deputies were called, and Nickerson was arrested.

When WFTV went to Riker's on Wednesday, Nickerson wasn't there, but his dispatcher said he wasn't thrilled.

"So what do you think about him getting arrested for something like this?" asked Channel 9's Jeff Deal.

"We think it was unfair," the dispatcher said.

But what many people may not know is that under state law, if the vehicle owner is at the location and asks a tow driver to stop, the tow truck driver must comply, then unhook the vehicle if the vehicle owner pays a "reasonable service fee" of not more than half of the posted towing rate.

The manager of one of the businesses along I-Drive told WFTV Riker's drivers are very aggressive, even towing some employee cars.

Riker's has a D rating with the Better Business Bureau.

Click here to read Florida's towing laws. Viewers can print out a copy and keep it in their glove box, just in case.