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Tow Truck Struck, Man Killed 03.12.20 (CA)


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One killed in traffic collision near Whitewater amid wet conditions on Interstate 10


A man waiting near a tow truck on Interstate 10 near Whitewater Road died Thursday afternoon after being struck by a vehicle, according to the California Highway Patrol. 


Yucca Valley resident Gilberto Avila, 40, died at Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs after he was struck around 3 p.m.


The incident started around 2 p.m. when a CHP officer responded to a call of two solo traffic collisions on eastbound I-10 east of Whitewater Road. After responding, the officer called for a tow truck to recover a Toyota Prius.


Later, Avila stood on the right shoulder of the freeway near a tow truck when a Chrysler Sebring, driven by 35-year-old Aaron Oliver of Avondale, Ariz., approached the scene, the CHP said. 


The initial investigation, according to the CHP, shows the Sebring was "traveling at an unsafe speed" for the road and weather conditions. Oliver's vehicle lost traction and veered onto the right shoulder and struck the tow truck followed by Avila.


Avila initially sustained major injuries and later died. 


Oliver and his passengers all suffered minor injuries and were also taken to the hospital, the CHP said. 


Alcohol and drugs were ruled out as factors in the cause of the collision, according to the CHP. The collision remains under investigation. 



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There have been several similar industry related scenarios where roadside customer's were allowed to wander. On the legal side of this unfortunate fatality, I believe this could have or may have been prevented if the tow operator had their customer seated in the tow truck with their seatbelt on or other place of safety. This situation is a topic for every safety meeting. I believe it a tower's responsibilty to take control of the customer's movements and direct them to a place of safety, if not in the truck with their seatbelt on.        R.



Randall C. Resch

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Wait, this couldnt have happened... there was a police officer there protecting the scene. ( Insert sarcasm here ) 

On a serious note, May the victim rest in peace. My heart goes out to all affected by this tragic yet avoidable event.

This is a PRIME example of the false sense of security many operators (and customers for that matter) get due to law enforcement being on scene. NO accident or recovery scene is safe and MUST be treated as such. Protect yourself AND your customers. Be firm but poilte when asking them to stay in a safe place. We have all dealt with that stubborn customer who wants to stand there or follow us around as we rush to hook up and load their vehicle. This of course not only puts them at risk but raises the stakes for us because it slows us down and keeps us exposed longer. I always tell myself "Secure your customer, then secure the vehicle"  


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