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Tower Down - 12.31.23 (CA) "Updated 01.07.24"

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Tow truck driver struck, killed in New Year's Eve crash on SR-125 in Spring Valley



A tow truck driver is dead after getting hit by a vehicle Sunday night in Spring Valley, the California Highway Patrol said.


CHP responded to reports of a collision between a vehicle and pedestrian at around 8 p.m. on southbound State Route 125, just north of Jamacha Road.


The pedestrian, a tow truck driver, was later pronounced deceased.


Lanes on southbound SR-125 were closed following the crash. All lanes were reopened as of 10:25 p.m.


CHP says this was not a hit-and-run.


No other information was immediately available.


This story will be updated with the latest information.


RESOURCE LINK with News Story Video




Tow-Truck Driver Killed on New Year's Eve Was Dale Alan Pumphrey, 63, of El Cajon


A tow-truck driver fatally struck by a vehicle on New Year’s Eve was identified Monday.


The Medical Examiner on Monday named 63-year-old Dale Alan Pumphrey of El Cajon as the victim of a fatal collision on the right-hand shoulder of southbound State Route 125 Sunday night. He had been involved in removing a vehicle stranded on SR 125 north of Jamacha Road.


Pumphrey was securing a gold Toyota Camry onto a white 2014 Hino flatbed tow truck when, for an unknown reason, he was struck by a Prius Sedan after it crashed into the left rear of his tow truck, according to the Medical Examiner.


“A call for assistance went out on 911 and first responders were dispatched to the scene,” the Medical Examiner said. “Despite attempts at resuscitation, Pumphrey could not be revived and his death was pronounced on the scene.”


Drugs and/or alcohol are not believed to be a factor in the fatal crash, according to the CHP.


The Toyota Prius driver, who was not identified, was not injured.


The incident was being investigated by CHP Officer D. Santiago.

Updated at 6:17 p.m. Jan. 1, 2024





Tow truck procession, memorial held for driver killed on the job




Dale Alan Pumphrey was hit by a car while moving a car on SR-125 near Jamacha Road.


SAN DIEGO — The life of a tow truck driver hit and killed on New Years Eve is being celebrated. Dale Alan Pumphrey was struck while working to move a car on State Route 125 in San Diego County near Jamacha Road.


Friends and family held a procession Saturday. Tow trucks drove from El Cajon — where Pumphrey lived — to the Cypress View Mortuary on Imperial Avenue. 


"We developed a friendship over 15 years and just became family," said Karl Fields, the general manager of the tow truck company.


He was said to have been working to put a gold Toyota Camry on his tow truck New Years Eve. That's when a Toyota Prius hit him and crashed into the back of his tow truck. 911 was called but first responders could not save him. He was pronounced dead at the scene. 


"You could tell by what they're doing today, all the tow trucks coming out for him," said Pam Coutret, a friend of Pumphrey. "I mean what a sendoff."


The driver's name hasn't been released. Drugs or alcohol aren't believed to be involved, according to CHP officials. 

"He was a good friend, a good husband. We're all gonna miss him," Coutret said.


"He was hardworking and he would go help anybody," Fields said. "Honestly any tow he would never complain, nasty weather, dangerous spots, he would rescue people and get them off the road."


Loved ones have a message for the community: slow down and move over when you see a tow truck or emergency vehicle on the side of the road. 



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I knew the driver, the brother of a long time friend and fellow tower. I never want to be the person that has to tell someone that their family member was killed again. This happened less than a mile from my house. We heard the sirens, saw the response, read the CHP log and prayed it was wrong. It wasn't. Dale had started working for USA Towing when it was still Broadway Towing. I spoke with some of his coworkers last night while I was still trying to get the details. He was loved and well respected by those who worked with him.

Towing is a very transitory occupation. Many drivers staying a few years here, then a few there. That he stayed in one place for what must be by now 20 years and a change of ownership speaks to the type of person he was. And to the kind of place many of us wish we could find. Not coworkers, but family. 

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