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Tower Down - 06.09.20 (VA)


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Tow Truck Driver Killed While Working Along I-495 in Fairfax County


A tow truck driver who was helping a driver stranded on the Capital Beltway in Fairfax County, Virginia, late Monday night was struck and killed during a chain-reaction crash.


Virginia State Police said someone driving a Honda Pilot rear-ended a Ford Edge SUV that was going southbound on I-495 near Route 236. The impact of the crash then caused the Honda to run off the right side of the highway and strike a tow truck.


The driver of the tow truck was outside of the truck, which had its lights flashing, to assist a disabled motorist, police said. As he ran to try to get away from the crash, a Mercedes SUV struck him, according to police. He died at the scene.



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My god.. How terrible. The article makes it sound like the operator might have darted out into traffic trying to avoid the initial impact of the honda and got struck by the mercedes as it drove by. I dont like to speculate without knowing all the facts but it certainly troubles me that this operator chose to run out into active lanes if that is in fact the case. Rest easy operator.


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Christine and I send our prayers to the tower's family and the company he worked for. I appreciate Grumps' candor as he is correct on one side of the coin, however, sometimes the ambient noise of the highway and weather conditions mask sounds of impending impact. Especially true when it's wet or icy, a skidding, out-of-control vehicle may NOT be heard until it's too late. I imagine that the natural reaction of a tower seeing approaching danger (out of the corner of one's eye) causes a reaction that suggests quickly getting away from that danger in a true, "fight or flight", manner. When a charging bull comes at you full force and you see that bull headed your way, it makes sense NOT to remain in the same place. I've included a tow operator video of what natural reaction looks like, especially when there's little or no time to react. Not knowing the details of this fatality, I understand the dynamics of survival and the reaction this tower made in an attempt to save his own life. In this example video, I think this tower saw the car coming, but had no place to go other than AWAY from the threat. At that very moment, I too may have done the same thing versus standing there and being fatally crushed. From the video, the tower's decision to run into traffic lanes obviously saved his life, but his being spared was simply dumb-luck that no cars approached at that very moment. I show this video in my safety courses and we have a detailed discussion about the importance of situational awareness, working off the white-line side, and where emergency lighting, wearing a vest and cops on-scene only create a false sense of security. Note: In this video, working the white-line, on either side, created extremely dangerous conditions for this operator. This video demonstrates a great training topic all tow companies should have in their safety meetings. Watch the video and honestly think of how you would have reacted? Reality says ... most individuals won't know how they'd react until that very moment their faced with a life-saving reaction. What would your's be?      R.



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Randall C. Resch

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