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Monday, December 8, 2008

CA Tow Truck Driver Killed By Big Rig

Sad, sad news. Our condolences to the family and acquaintances of a 46-year old tow truck driver who was struck and killed on the side of the highway on Saturday. Our thoughts also go out to the employees of Performance Towing where the man worked. He is the second Performance Towing driver to die in the past two weeks. The other employee, 41-year old Randall Armendariz Sr. was shot to death on Nov. 24 after confronting an auto thief. (Click here to read that post.)

Here's the story from the Merced Sun-Star:

A 46-year-old tow truck driver was killed on Highway 99 on Saturday, after being struck by a big rig, the California Highway Patrol reported.

The CHP has not released the name of the man, who lived in Atwater, and the death is the second for a local tow truck company in less than two weeks.

CHP spokesman Shane Ferriera said the victim was killed shortly before 1 a.m., not long after he had been dispatched to tow away a car on southbound Highway 99, north of Campus Parkway.

Ferriera said the CHP had requested a tow truck after arresting Alfredo Hernadez, 47, of Escalon, on suspicion of driving under the influence.

The tow truck driver responded to the scene and began hooking up the wheels of Hernandez's Ford Taurus.

Meanwhile, the big rig, driven by 58-year-old John Hamersley, of Sacramento, was traveling in the highway's slow lane.

For unknown reasons, the big rig truck drifted onto the right shoulder, striking the victim and the tow truck.

Ferriera said the victim was standing, connecting the Taurus' wheel to the back of his truck, when he was struck by one of the big rig's two trailers.

Two CHP officers, who were already at the scene to arrest Hernandez, saw the collision and called for assistance. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene, Ferriera said.

The officers at the scene were not injured during the collision. Hernandez, who was sitting in back of a patrol car when the collision happened, was also unhurt.

Ferriera said investigators are still looking into why Hamersley veered to the side of the highway. He said alcohol or drugs are not believed to have been factors in the collision.

The victim was an employee of Performance Towing in Merced. Another employee of that company, 41-year-old Randall Armendariz Sr., was shot to death on Nov. 24. Merced police believe Armendariz was killed after confronting an auto thief.

Reporter Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or vpatton@mercedsun-star.com.

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