Monday night a North Texas tow truck driver working on an overpass was thrown off a bridge and killed after a suspected drunk driver crashed into the operator, according to Dallas Police.
DPD said around 9:44 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 30, a tow truck operator was hooking up a gray 2008 Nissan Altima to his tow truck in the 8100 block of LBJ Freeway on the southbound overpass to U.S. HWY 75, also known as the High Five in North Dallas.
Police said the driver of a black 2003 Chevrolet Tahoe crashed into the man and the car he was working on. 35-year-old Denise Chantel Alford was arrested for intoxication manslaughter.
Police said the impact knocked the tow truck driver off the overpass and onto the eastbound I-635 below. He was killed. Tuesday evening the medical examiner identified the man as 35-year-old Garry McGee.
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A gofundme page for McGee states he leaves behind a wife, a one-year-old daughter, and a 14-year-old stepdaughter.
“A whole family was rocked today because of one person’s decision," said McGee's sister-in-law Heather Southerland.
Southerland described McGee as the life of the party.
“Everything he did was times five. You know, if you did something small, he had to do it five times bigger, so he was very much larger than life," she said.
As her family prepares for a funeral, Southerland said she hopes their tragedy will serve as a warning for people not to drink and drive.
"My heart and prayers go out to the family of that fallen tower, we see it all too often," said Ken Ulmer, chairman of Texas Towing and Storage Association and president of Safe Tow in Houston.
He has trained many tow truck drivers over the years.
"Texas is one of the leading states for these fatalities so we got to do something to get it under control," said Ulmer.
The state has a 'Move Over and Slow Down' Law which was put in place to help with exactly that. The law requires drivers to move to the next lane or slow down to 20 MPH below the posted speed limit when approaching first responders, tow truck drivers, utility workers, TxDOT, construction crews and other roadside workers that have signals and flashing lights.
"I just can't express to people how important it is to pay attention to the move over slow down laws," said Ulmer.
Social media groups like 'Team Hooker Slow Down and Move Over Worldwide' are operated by those in the industry who echo the same message.
"This has got to stop, slow down and move over needs to be out there a lot more, people need to understand you're not just looking at your phone, you're not just sending a text message real quick, this is someone's life on the line," said April Tompkins.
She and her husband, Andrew, help run the page from their Kentucky home.
"We are very well connected with our tow community and unfortunately I received a message this morning stating that we lost another brother in the line of duty," said Tompkins.
Her husband is also tow truck operator for Mosby's Towing and has faced his share of close calls.
"Our goal is to provide education and bring awareness to the amount of tragedies on the side of the road," said Andrew.
He said within the last 48 hours two tow truck drivers, including McGee, lost their lives.
According to Respondersafety, so far this year, 44 emergency responders have been struck and killed while working on roadways across the nation.
One of those deaths includes Dallas Police Ofc. Mitchell Penton who was killed while responding to a crash on North Central Expressway at Walnut Hill Ln. Police said a suspected drunk driver crashed into the back of Penton's squad car, which pushed the car into Penton.