The cables were definitely hooked up backwards. I had this happen to me,
but no damage was done to my vehicle. I was boosting a friends Honda Accord
and his girlfriends brother, who is supposed to be a mechanic, grabbed the
cables and proceeded to hook them up backwards on my car and properly on my
buddies car. The second he clamped the last cable onto the dead battery,
the largest fuse in the distribution block under the hood of the Honda let
out a large crackle and snapped, before any other damage could happen. My
buddy instantly grabbed the cables and pulled them off his battery,
preventing any more damage, realizing what his girfriends brother had done.
Fortunately, nothing happened to my car, and beside the fuse, his Honda was
OK as well. If I had been boosting him with a larger vehicle (thus larger
battery) such as yourself, I could definitely see more damage happening.
That tow truck more than likely had at least a 1000 CA battery, probably a
second battery as well for the winch and all the accessories.
It sounds like when you called AAA, a dishonest shop was sent out to tow
your vehicle. When the tow truck driver made the mistake of hooking the
cables up backward and realized what had happened, he probably already knew
there was something wrong with your battery anyway, and took advantage of
the situation, figuring you would not know otherwise. I'm guessing once the
car was brought into their shop, they told you the battery was fried,
alternator was shot and whatever other damage was caused because of the
original problem with your brake lights. I'm willing to bet this is
completely untrue and if I were you, I would get my car out of that garage
ASAP. Get that taken care of and the next step would be to call AAA
customer service and let them know what happened. Tell them they or the
shop that towed your vehicle should be going good for at least 1/2 the
service bill. The whole idea of paying that yearly subscription to AAA is
so that things like this do not happen in the first place, not to make
things worse for you.
This truly is a situation of being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Keep in mind, this is all speculation, but it happens every day. The proof
is the numerous people who come on this newsgroup asking similar questions
as yours in the same type of situation. I hope everything turns out well,
given the situation.