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Kansas City tow truck driver killed on the job

A Kansas City teenager died while trying to help out a motorist with a flat tire. The 18-year-old, a towing company employee, was dispatched to the scene of a disabled vehicle on Interstate 35. The young man was killed in an auto accident by a passing motorist.

An unidentified truck driver who caused the fatal auto accident couldn't see or failed to respond appropriately to the flashing lights of the tow truck and the work alongside the busy road. Tow truck drivers say many drivers and state laws do not acknowledge tow trucks as emergency vehicles.

The area where the accident took place does have what is known as a "Move Over Law." The law penalizes drivers who don't slow down or move into another traffic lane to give extra room for construction workers and emergency responders.


Some states include tow trucks among other emergency vehicles like ambulances, police cruisers and construction equipment. Unfortunately, the tow truck on Interstate 35 in Missouri did not qualify as an official emergency vehicle. Tow trucks are only protected by Missouri's Move Over law if they are part of accident scene cleanup.

The Kansas Move Over law is similar to the one in neighboring Missouri. Drivers are required to slow down or steer clear, when possible, of roadside emergencies or construction. Tow truck drivers who honored the accident victim are planning to push for new state rules that help protect anyone rendering assistance to a disabled motorist.

Reports did not indicate whether the truck driver who slammed into the tow truck operator would be charged with any crime. Parents and other immediate family members of the victim may feel the teen's death was no accident.

A negligent truck driver -- even without being guilty of breaking a Move Over law -- can be held responsible for the teen's death in civil court. The victim's family could file a wrongful death complaint and receive compensation for damages, including expenses related to the 18-year-old's death and emotional hardships.

Source: thetelegraph.com, "Motorists urged to slow down for tow trucks," Cynthia M. Ellis, Sept. 10, 2012

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