Yesterday, my husband and I were remembering a fellow tow truck driver who was murdered by a woman in 2011. She had her SUV parked illegally in an apartment complex and the SUV had no plates on it. The apartment manager called the towing company to remove her car because it was taking up room for those who lived there. Allen Rose’s towing company J&J Towing was under contract with them and he had a legal right to remove her SUV.
While hooking up the SUV, the owner of the vehicle ran out, jumped into the SUV, put it in reverse and sped off, tangling Allen’s leg in the tow cable. She dragged him at approximately 50 mph (eye witnesses say he was screaming as he was being dragged) for one mile until his leg separated from his body at which point she pulled over and fled the scene. This woman swore she had no idea she was dragging him in spite of the fact that other drivers were trying to get her to stop and yelling out their windows that she was dragging a human being behind her car. The woman was caught, arrested, went to trial and is now doing 20 years for her heinous crime.
A man sitting next to us interrupted our conversation and stated that all tow truck drivers are crooks anyway. He had no empathy for the Iraq War veteran who lost his life or the wife and children he left behind. Of course, being the shy, reserved person that I am 😉 I jumped down his throat with (probably) more venom than was necessary. However, we have attended many funerals for tow truck drivers who were killed on the side of the road while changing a tire or trying to hook up a car that is disabled. My husband spent many years pulling people out of freezing rivers, off the sides of cliffs because they were driving too fast for conditions and each time he went out on these calls my heart was in my throat. The worst calls were for tire changes on the side of I-25 in Colorado or impounding vehicles that were parked illegally.
While we both agree that there are those who take advantage of people at their most vulnerable in many industries, most tow truck drivers ARE NOT CROOKS. They are men and women who work (in the majority of states) long hours in conditions most people wouldn’t drive in for 30% of whatever the cost of the call is. So, at AAA rates, that means their salary for a tire change on a dangerous highway is approximately $12.00 before taxes. Very few tow companies pay a flat salary plus commission. They are commission only jobs.
The one thing most people either don’t know – or choose to ignore – is that tow trucks are considered emergency vehicles and the rules regarding pulling over into the left lane or slowing down to 45 mph apply just as they do if there is a police car, ambulance or fire truck on the side of the road.
I can’t believe my husband was as calm as he was. Now that he drives plow trucks there are new worries because some people see them as an inconvenience even though they are out there trying to make the roads safe for travel. One of his co-workers was hit head-on by someone who was speeding around a turn in the canyon. Then he got rear-ended by another car that was following too close and couldn’t stop when the plow truck got hit. Thankfully, his co-worker is okay and both of the other drivers might not have licenses anymore.
Some of the above information was derived from stories in The Denver Post.