Fort Worth

Tow Truck Driver's Hit-and-Run Death Raises Safety Concerns

State law says drivers must move over or slow down for first responders, which includes tow truck drivers

The death of a tow truck driver following a hit-and-run in Fort Worth is raising concerns about the safety of first responders.

A witness told police a driver in a white semi kept going after it hit the tow truck driver, who was parked on the side of the freeway.

No arrests have been made.

"Most days are good until you have to get on the freeways and nobody wants to slow down or move over for you," said Jody Sebastian of Cowboy Towing in Pantego. "Makes you wonder if you're going to go home at night."

Sebastian has had his share of close calls.

"Having to jump out of the way, get over a guardrail," he recounted.

Tuesday morning's hit-and-run crash in Fort Worth was a tragic reminder for Sebastian and other tow truck drivers.

A witness told police the hit-and-run driver was in a white semi-truck pulling a "grain-type" trailer with a gray tarp.

The semi will likely have damage to the front right side, including the headlight, investigators said.

There should also be fiberglass body damage.

State law says drivers must move over a lane or slowdown 20 miles under the speed limit for emergency responders, tow truck drivers included.

"My favorite term is we are second class first responders," Sebastian said. "[Drivers] just don't think we apply in that law and we do."

Police officers constantly watch for distracted or impaired drivers.

"You'll hear a lot of officers say their head is on a swivel," said Arlington officer Jesse Minton.

Earlier this year an Irving police officer had to leap over a highway railing to avoid being hit by an oncoming car that slammed into his parked motorcycle.

Fortunately, the officer was okay.

Both officers and tow truck drivers feel motorists are more inclined to move over or slow down for police.

"If somebody sees a police officer out there, they know that officer can write them a ticket, and that's not going to happen with a tow truck driver, but officers do watch tow truck drivers pretty closely," Minton said.

A local group of tow truck drivers called One Team, With One Goal is preparing for its annual safety ride with other first responders in January.

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