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Waterloo Region towing community comes together to honour fallen driver

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More than 50 tow trucks drove together Saturday night to honour the late Sandy Mayne of Mayne One Towing

 

They may be competitors when it comes to business, but in the end, the towing industry is a community.

That community feel was on display with a near-kilometre-long procession of tow trucks on Saturday night to show support for a fallen colleague.

Sandy Mayne, who owned Mayne One Towing, died of cancer-related illness on New Year's Day. So in their regular fashion, the towing community came together by driving a route — a final ride of sorts — to honour the driver with more than 30 years of service time.

 

“Every company in Kitchener-Waterloo was involved in that and it shows respect. If you have a brother pass away, you respect it,” said Al Pinheiro of Active Towing.

Mayne started his career with Active Towing before he started his own company with a small fleet. He retired from towing about three years ago.

While they don’t get the glory of the first responders, tow truck drivers do face harsh realities on the road and often have little support to deal with those traumatic experiences.

It’s that shared experience that brings them together.

“We really don’t have an outlet like some of the other industries do because we’re not a government-paid industry. We pay for our own benefits. If we need some counselling … at one point, you were kind of on your own to deal with it.”

In Pinheiro’s experience, he’s dealt with at least half a dozen fatalities where the body of the deceased person was still in or around the vehicle. In one case, he had to move the vehicle so the victim could be removed from under it.

“You don’t have anybody. You can’t go to your boss and say I need to go talk to our counsellor. You just deal with it,” said Pinheiro.

 

 

But, Pinheiro said, with more awareness about post-traumatic stress disorder, more drivers are seeking helping if it is required.

For Mayne’s final ride, between 50 and 80 tow trucks started at the Laurentian Power Centre and with the help of the Waterloo Regional Police Service, they drove as a group down Ottawa Street to the Conestoga Parkway, where they continued north on Highway 85 around the roundabout in Elmira, before returning back by the same route

 

This is far from the first time the tow community has gotten together to honour one of their own. On Dec. 1, there was another ride for Kenny Lawrence, who died on Nov. 27 at the age of 46.

While the tow community may not get along all the time, according to Harold Markle, owner of Canadian Towing Equipment, it is similar to a family.

“They’re like a family,” said Markle. “They’re just like a family. They may scrap all day and disagree, but when the chips are down and one of their family have had a problem, they are the most big-hearted people you can find. That’s true just about everywhere you go in the province.”

Markle, who ran his own towing company, Cambridge-based Markle Service, from 1971 to 1991 before getting into the business of building tow equipment, added that when it comes to serious situations, such as snow storms, the focus is always on helping people first.

“What’s amazing is when there’s a major snowstorm or a major accident and multiple trucks are required, they’re all competing for that business, but they’ll make sure it gets done and they’ll even help each other. But then it’s right back to competing.”

 

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