NEWPORT NEWS — By all accounts, Andy Starmer did everything right on Sunday night.
He was wearing reflective clothing. He had the lights on his tow truck flashing. And he was pulled off onto the right shoulder of Interstate 64 near Victory Boulevard in Newport News.
But the Denbigh High School graduate, who would have turned 37 on Wednesday, died after being struck by the vehicle of a motorist who is now charged with driving under the influence.
William Charles Burns, 51, of Newport News, was charged with DUI and reckless driving, and the Newport News commonwealth's attorney will determine whether to charge him also with manslaughter, said Virginia State Police Sgt. Michelle Cotten.
"Our job exposes us to the same dangers as any other emergency responders," said Clarence Patrick, the owner of Superior Towing in Newport News, where Starmer had worked for seven years. "We take the same precautions as police, paramedics and fire and rescue workers when they are responding to a situation on the highway."
Patrick said Starmer's "rollback" tow truck was "as far onto the right shoulder as it could go, less than a foot from the guardrail."
Starmer was removing a disabled vehicle from westbound I-64 when he was hit around 8:30 p.m. Sunday.
Patrick said Starmer had placed the vehicle on his wrecker and was securing it with chains when a four-door pickup truck came onto the shoulder, hit the tow truck and then struck Starmer.
Starmer was propelled about 100 feet past the front of the tow truck, and the other truck came to rest another 100 feet up the road, Patrick said.
Starmer was taken to a local hospital and pronounced dead. Burns also sustained injuries in the accident but is expected to recover.
Patrick, who has been in the towing business for more than a decade, said it is the first time one of his drivers has been hit.
He said Starmer, who had a young son, was one of five drivers working for Superior.
"We're a small company," he said. "Andy was like a part of the family."
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Suspected Drunk Driver Could Face Manslaughter Charges for VA Tow Truck Driver's Death
Here's the story from the Daily Press:
Posted by Cyndi Kight, Associate Editor of Towing & Recovery Footnotes at 3:00 PM