A 46-year-old tow truck driver killed on Highway 99 on Saturday has been identified by the Merced County Coroner's Office as Timothy Schroeder of Atwater.
Schroeder was killed after being struck by a big rig, the California Highway Patrol reported. He was preparing to connect a car to the back of his truck when the big rig drifted onto the right shoulder, striking him.
The big rig was driven by 58-year-old John Hamersley, of Sacramento, according to Shane Ferriera, CHP spokesman.
Schroeder was an employee at Performance Towing in Merced -- and the second worker at that business to be killed in less than two weeks. 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.
Dawn Ballard, an office manager at Performance Towing, said employees are devastated about Schroeder's death. He had worked at the business for about five months. "He was a loving father and friend," Ballard said. "He could make everybody laugh."
Ferriera said the collision report will be forwarded to the Merced County District Attorney's Office to determine whether Hamersley will face charges.
-- Victor A. Patton