Event honors first responders

Published 11:20 am Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A small group faced a casket Thursday morning, serving as a sober reminder of the numerous casualties of tow truck operators and first responders resulting from roadside accidents.

The ceremony was hosted by American Towman Spirit Ride, an organization that brings awareness to the dangers faced by tow truck operators in addition to first responders who work in roadside accidents.

Roughly one hundred casualties take place every year as a result of tow truck operators and first responders working on sites of roadside accidents, Organizer Mike Corbin said.

He said this can take place when motorists drive too close to the side of the road, putting operators, department of transportation, construction employees and first responders in danger.

Section 46.2-921.1 of the Code of Virginia states that drivers yield right of way or reduce speed when approaching stationary emergency vehicles on highways, according to the Virginia State Police website.

Corbin noted that according to the National Safety Commission, 71 percent of Americans have not heard of the Move Over Law.

“Today we call out to all drivers: give us room to work,” Corbin said. “Ask yourself, would you work at a desk where right behind you is the edge of a cliff, and no safety net?”

Joseph Kellum, who owns Joe’s Towing in Meherrin, said he had supported the organization when it first started, which travels through the U.S. to bring awareness. Kellum said the organization contacted him and asked if he wanted to participate.

His daughter, Kelsea, read a poem from the organization honoring the spirit that drives tow truck operators and first responders to help despite danger.

Corbin played a few songs on guitar honoring first responders, and participants joined in moments of silence, prayers and passing a baton to remind participants of dangers operators face.

Kellum, along with representatives from B&T Towing in Colonial Heights, headed to Colonial Heights with Spirit Ride after the ceremony to hold a similar event there.

Major R.S. Freeman with the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office said the event was meaningful to him and he hopes the event brings greater awareness.

“I think it was a good event for a good cause,” Freeman said.

Doris and Chuck Hybl heard about the event after seeing the Spirit Ride van and hearing it would take place a few streets away from their home.

They were moved by the event and hopes the message will continue to spread.

“It’s certainly a worthy cause, and something people need to be aware of,” Chuck said.