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Driver charged in killing Tow Truck Operator in Hit & Run (MO)


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Driver charged in deadly Northland hit-and-run had revoked license, admitted to drinking before crash

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kansas City police arrested a man who is now charged in Sunday's deadly hit-and-run crash that killed a tow truck driver at Interstate 35 and North Brighton. Frankie Lee Jones, a 44-year-old Kansas City man, is charged with leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in death, a class D felony.

 

A probable cause statement says that Jones' license had been revoked, and he told investigators that he had six or seven Coronas before the crash. During his interview, he admitted to driving the Chevrolet Equinox police had been looking for and said he struck a vehicle on the highway Sunday night, leaving the scene without stopping. He gave consent for a blood draw, toxicology results are pending.

 

Tow truck driver Johnny Stewart was hit and killed at about 11 p.m. FOX4's John Pepitone reported earlier on Monday that he had loaded a woman's broken down car onto his truck, and was hit when he went around the back of it to get into his cab.

 

Stewart worked for GT Towing for at least the last four years, and was known as a hard-working man who treated his customers well, often earning tips for going the extra mile to help them out. His family released this statement on Monday.

 

"We are devastated by the death of Johnny.  He was a good man that was killed while doing what he loved to do.  We respectfully request that you allow us our privacy at this difficult time."

 

It's the second time in six years that GT Towing has lost a driver who was killed while working. In 2012, a driver struck and killed 19-year-old Blake Gresham as he helped a stranded car owner on the Bond Bridge.

 

Stewart's boss, Amy Gresham, says the death is all too similar to what happened to her son, Blake.

 

"We just need these people to realize when these guys are out here working they need to slow down and move over," Amy Gresham said. "They have to have room to work. I mean we’re going to have cars, we’re going to have to have tow trucks. These guys are there to help you. These guys are there to make sure you’re not getting hurt. You’re not the one getting hit, you know what I’m saying. There's so many people who take it for granted."

 

Gresham founded "Move Over For Blake" a non-profit group that helped expand a Missouri law requiring drivers to move over when emergency vehicles are alongside the roadway.

 

Gresham says Stewart's death is the latest example of why she believes there needs to be stricter enforcement of the law, because she says many drivers still seem unwilling to move over.

 

Court records show Jones' bond has been set at $50,000, but he doesn't have an attorney listed nor a court date at present.

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