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Tower Down - 06.23.20 (CA)


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Tow truck driver killed on I-280




A tow truck driver who contracts with a state agency was killed today (June 23) on Interstate 280 between Farm Hill Boulevard and Edgewood Road in Redwood City, according to CHP.


The man, who is in his 60s and is from Castro Valley or Dublin, was a driver with the Bay Area Freeway Service Patrol, or FSP, a program that works with Caltrans and the CHP to quickly respond to vehicle breakdowns that occur during rush hour, said CHP Officer Art Montiel.


At 3:40 p.m., the man was working on a car on the right shoulder of southbound 280 when a large red lumber truck swerved off the interstate and hit both the FSP truck and the man, Montiel said.


The CHP doesn’t know why the truck swerved off the road, Montiel said.


The driver of the red truck stopped a little ways away from the scene, said Montiel. The man is 25 and from San Jose, his name is not being released yet.


Montiel said that drivers need to remember to slow down or pull into the next lane if they see a utility or emergency vehicle in the right shoulder with its emergency lights on.



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How very sad. It’s been 20-years since FSP tow operator, Ricardo Hernandez, was killed in California and Ricardo’s name was added to the Wall of the Fallen last year. His death was the first FSP operator killed in the line-of-duty in California. It’s dangerous enough being a tow operator in the first place only to be an FSP operator in any state where one’s odds of being struck are many time higher. I looked at my numbers to see that this fatality is the 18th highway service provider in 20-years with Florida leading with 5-strikes, Illinois with 3-strikes Missouri, Georgia and California counting 2-strikes.


I read in a Bay Area’s FSP manual, it says, “If an operator is unable to get a vehicle running within 10-minutes, he/she should tow the vehicle to a designated drop location where additional assistance can be requested.” That guideline typically is a general statement left up to the decision of the tow operator. And, knowing what time is involved in simple tire change calls, I believe ALL shoulder incidents should be load and go to decrease the lost time between arrival and attempting to service a vehicle. I believe trying to start a vehicle is only a courteousy provided by the state, but, the fatality history of highway related pedestrian (operator) strikes demonstrates the dangers any highway service patrol faces.


Christine and I send our prayers to the tower’s family, his company as well as the FSP. I firmly believe service calls on the highway only increase a tower’s exposure where breakdowns should be load and go only. I believe the protocol for providing service on high-speed freeways is always risky business.       R.

Randall C. Resch

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