MERCED -- It may not have been a typical funeral procession: dozens of tow trucks trailing behind a family in mourning.
But for Tim Schroeder, it seemed a fitting tribute.
Hundreds of people turned out Wednesday to honor the Atwater tow-truck driver who died on the job last week. At his funeral in Merced, family and friends remembered Schroeder as a hard worker, an avid outdoorsman and a playful, loving father.
Schroeder, 46, died Saturday while responding to an early-morning call along Highway 99. He was preparing to connect a car to the back of his tow truck when a big rig drifted onto the shoulder and struck him.
The big-rig driver, 58-year-old John Hamersley of Sacramento, isn't believed to have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the CHP has said. It still hasn't been determined whether he'll face any criminal charges.
Born in Ceres and the middle of three brothers, Schroeder graduated from Merced High School. He married his wife, Suzanne, in 1985.
They went on to have two children. Schroeder's teenage daughter, Sarah, said she remembers her dad as "the best father I could ask for."
He had worked at Performance Towing in Merced for about five months. He's the second Performance employee to be killed in the last two weeks. Randall Armendariz Sr., 41, was fatally shot Nov. 24.
Police believe he died after confronting a thief who stole one of Performance's service vehicles.
After Armendariz's death, Schroeder spent days gathering donations to benefit his co-worker's family.
"It's been real hard on everybody here," said Jason Casado, who worked with Schroeder. "To lose two guys so close together is just ... we're hurting."
Jeff Hunter, executive director of the California Tow Truck Association, said Schroeder is the second tow-truck driver in the state to be hit in the last month while responding to a call.
At least three California tow-truck drivers have died on scene this year, he said.
"It's an incredibly dangerous occupation," Hunter said. "A lot of people don't realize that."
There's only so much drivers and tow companies can do to minimize that danger, he added. "It's really unfortunate. In cases like this one, there's just nothing you can do.
"That risk is always going to come with the territory."
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