Driver for West Seattle’s GT Towing killed in overnight crash

An employee of West Seattle’s GT Towing was killed in a hit-and-run overnight, according to the Washington State Patrol, which sent a news release saying two suspects are in custody, 31-year-old and 20-year-old men:

A tow truck driver was struck and killed on the entrance ramp from Spokane Street to southbound Interstate 5 at approximately 1:15 a.m. while securing a vehicle from an earlier collision. The driver, a 51 year old male working for GT Towing in Seattle, was kneeling down at the left front side of the disabled vehicle when a southbound 2000 Ford Explorer lost control while travelling in the HOV lane. The Explorer came across all 5 southbound lanes and struck the tow truck driver. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

After colliding with the tow truck operator, disabled vehicle, and tow truck, the Explorer spun back across all southbound lanes and came to rest facing northbound in the middle of the freeway. As the tow truck driver lay mortally wounded in the right lane, the driver of the Explorer turned the vehicle around and fled the scene southbound on Interstate 5. Alert troopers located the Explorer within minutes of the collision at the bottom of the Michigan Street ramp as one of the occupants was outside urinating. …

The cause of the collision is under investigation and detectives are working to verify who was driving the SUV. It is believed that both occupants were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the collision. Vehicular homicide and hit and run charges are expected as the investigation progresses.

33 Replies to "Driver for West Seattle's GT Towing killed in overnight crash"

  • samson September 24, 2010 (6:16 am)

    thats so dumb for an Explorer driver to take off… vehicular homicide! People dont understand and DONT CARE then take off. so disgusted. I pray for GT towing trucker’s family for their loss.

  • Leroniusmonkfish September 24, 2010 (6:27 am)

    Drugs and/or alcohol. You have to wonder sometimes if humanity is getting dumber by the minute…

  • Brenda Barnes September 24, 2010 (6:40 am)

    GT Towing and the drivers family are all in my prayers. I am the head dispatcher for Tow Masters, Tow Express, ZZ Towing for station 503 AAA and 18 other clubs in the South King County area. Our office is in Kent. My husband is also a driver for us, I can’t imagine having to deal with that devistation. I think about it though. We did have a driver have to dive under his deck once to avoid being hit. We have had our trucks struck by drivers flying by on the freeways, one just yesterday in Federal Way and a few weeks ago I-405 in Renton. We have a truck that is being restored from a drunk driver hitting it as my driver and a member finished off loading a car in Tacoma on Pacific Hwy E back in February. It is so dangerous out there. As a rule, we no longer have dollies thrown on the freeways, I only send flatbeds and that ain’t safe either. People just don’t pay attention or care. I am putting out a prayer chain on my Facebook and in my church for the family of the driver and his GT Towing family also. And adding a prayer of safety for all our drivers out there.

  • Louise September 24, 2010 (7:30 am)

    My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the driver and to his extended family (anyone in the towing industry). My husband was a driver for 16 years and my son has followed in his footsteps. I also owned an answering service for a number of years strickly for tow companies. I have many friends still in the industry. It is never out of your mind that something this tragic and senseless could happen. Please keep this family in your prayers.

  • AJP September 24, 2010 (8:00 am)

    Absolutely horrible. So sorry for this man, his family, and the company.

  • Bianca September 24, 2010 (8:09 am)

    It’s been a tragic couple of days in the ‘hood. Very sad…

  • HolyKow September 24, 2010 (8:35 am)

    I still think we, as a society, have this all wrong.

    1) DUI is not legal. We all know it is not legal. You cannot get your license without knowledge of the implied consent law that when you have a license, you have consented to submission to a test to prove you are not impaired….

    2) Drinking and driving is a choice. You know it is not legal, you arrogantly CHOOSE to do that, there by acting on a choice to put others in danger.

    If you choose to do something illegal and, during the commission of such an act, someone is killed because of your negligent action, that is DEPRAVED INDIFFERENCE MURDER 2.

    DUI laws are a joke. 5,10,15 times you can do this and just keep getting off, even if you hurt or kill someone.

    Here is how we fix that:

    1st offense (with no injury to anyone other than your own dumb A55) – suspend license for a year, big fine

    2nd offense (with no injury to anyone other than your own dumb a55) – drivers license suspended for LIFE! HUGE fine.

    ANY offense where someone is hurt besides your dumb a55 – lost license for life and you are responsible for all costs and damages plus 5 years in jail.

    Someone is killed because of your depraved indifference to human life, you go to jail for 25 to life and if you ever do get out, no license ever ever ever ever ever ever ever again.

    Until this revolving door of irresponsibility comes to a close, we will never make progress as a society regarding this issue.


  • richard September 24, 2010 (8:45 am)

    As a tow truck driver who has been doing this for 32 years, (4 years in Seattle) I see the danger everyday.

    I think one of the punishments should be no license for life again. NO REASON AT ALL, if you kill someone while under the influance of anything.

    Also they can also be sentanced to spend 4 or 5 hours on the side of the highway, just like we do on a daily basis.

  • 35this35mph September 24, 2010 (8:58 am)

    I am dumbstruck by the unbelievable loss of life in our neck of the woods these last few days. My sympathies and prayers to the family of this man.

    I also find myself agreeing with HolyKow on this one (in principle if not details). I think that drunk driving laws/consequences are not strict enough because so many can imagine themselves having a lapse of judgment in that arena. How many of us have done it? How many legislators have?

  • JAT September 24, 2010 (9:06 am)

    I agree with HolyKow above that as a culture we too readily accept the flouting of laws regarding operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. But as long as the sentence “I need my car” doesn’t raise a skeptical eyebrow among those who hear it, we’ll never have the penalties HolyKow envisions.

    Constitutional provisions for Due Process will ensure that DUI lawyers will continue to fight tooth and nail to protect those who “need their cars”.

    I’m not complaining about DUI lawyers; I’m in favor of Due Process, I suspect you all are too.

    I’m just saying that we’ve built a society in which personal motorized transportation is among the absolute most important things, and yet individual operators are often not really very good at driving. The resultant maimings, deaths and grieving families are necessary and apparently acceptable side effect.

    Oh well. Too bad.

  • Lola September 24, 2010 (9:29 am)

    I am glad they were caught instead of still being out there causing destruction. Lock them up and throw away the key.

    I am sorry for the tow truck driver and his family for the loss they now must bear.

  • SSM September 24, 2010 (9:38 am)

    My heartfelt condolences to the tow truck drivers family and friends. I’m so very sorry.

    Message to the desensitized morons who fled the scene: We’re not robots or characters in a game or movie. We’re humans. Hope someone reminds you of this each day in jail.

  • umm September 24, 2010 (9:45 am)

    Totally agree. If you kill someone because you’re too stupid to NOT drive when you shouldn’t be, take their license away. Fortunately, we live in Seattle and have and AMAZING public metro system. “I need my car” isn’t valid in most highly populated areas anymore. “I need my car” in a city the size of ours really just means “I need to be able to eventually drive home drunk again.”

  • k2 September 24, 2010 (9:53 am)

    this is truly sad…

    did someone say we have an ‘amazing public metro system’…i hope that was sarcasm…this city PALES in comparison.

  • umm September 24, 2010 (10:01 am)

    Amazing public metro system, yes, I did say that, and I stick by it. I, myself, have never even had to go get my license because we have public transit to and from anywhere in the city, and most places outside the city. I’m a single parent, I have a job, etc., and I’ve never found a reason to not use the buses. Let’s not get caught up in how much better transit is in other cities (the grass is always greener, right?), that isn’t the point. The point is that irresponsible people who can’t follow the rules of the road and are CHOOSING to put people’s lives in danger (and succeeding in taking their lives) by driving around drunk and/or high should never be allowed to use the excuse “I need my car”, as they obviously do not need it.

  • WTF September 24, 2010 (10:07 am)

    I continue my quest of knowing WTF is wrong with people? The utter disregard for human life by these PsOS pisses me off.

  • HolyKow September 24, 2010 (10:43 am)

    We need to start countering the “I need my car” excuse with ” Too bad, I need my LIFE”


  • MB September 24, 2010 (10:44 am)

    This is so sad. I’m glad they caught up with the vehicle that fled. Really? You just killed someone and you pull over to let the passenger pee on the side of the road!?!? WTF?

    umm: There are times when I do need my car and it’s not to drive home drunk. It would take me an awful long time to get to work if I didn’t drive, as our ‘amazing public metro system’ doesn’t accommodate my route at all. Blanket statements don’t serve anyone very well and really only reflect your personal experience…mine is different and that’s ok and it doesn’t make me wrong or bad for driving responsibly. It’s awesome for you ‘personally’ that you haven’t needed to.

  • umm September 24, 2010 (10:55 am)

    MB: Not EVERYONE should have their licenses taken away; why suffer a punishment when you haven’t done anything wrong? I was saying people like that should have them taken away and made to use transit from then on. THEY should not be able to use the excuse “I need my car.” People who drive drunk/high and end up seriously hurting and, as in this case, KILLING people. So, obviously, if you personally are not driving around drunk/high and killing people, then you would be free to drive to and from your job that isn’t along any bus lines, or wherever you need to get to.

  • coffee September 24, 2010 (11:09 am)

    I cannot agree more with the removing of a license as listed above, however, I am sure that all of the liqour companies and bottlers would spend millions squashing a law like that. When I am on the road late at night I am amazed at the drivers I see and avoid.

  • MB September 24, 2010 (11:15 am)

    Umm: Got it, I misunderstood you and just re-read your comment. I would have to agree with you in that if you screw up, I don’t think you should be able to drive either. It should be a privilege, not a right. There are a few commenters on the blog who believe all car drivers are evil and that just isn’t fair. There are legitimate reasons many of us do need to drive. Though considering my experience on Seattle roads, I’d almost have to agree…I feel like I almost get killed on a daily basis around here. Congrats to you for figuring out a way to avoid driving yourself. At least you can rest at ease that I am paying attention on the road :) Back to the topic though, my sincerest condolences to the family and the local towing community…another senseless tragedy. This has been a rough week.

  • bsmomma September 24, 2010 (11:16 am)

    I think it’s a GREAT idea that the license be taken away! The “I need my car” is just a crap statement coming out of the mouth of someone who just took another human beings LIFE. There family Needs his LIFE back. They are forever effected by the loss. So what if you have to be inconvenienced with taking public transportation for One Whole Year out of your Life (That you get to keep) to go see your P.O.?! And if some A-hole that just took someone’s life is petty/selfish/evil enough to cry about not being able to drive……will probably continue to drive without a license. I am so sorry that people are having to deal with yet another senseless tragedy that will go unpunished as far as the common sense people see it.

  • Cheryl September 24, 2010 (11:21 am)

    The idiot driver and her passenger sound like REAL winners (NOT) — I’m SO sorry for the family/friends of the man killed. Just so unnecessary!

  • WSMom September 24, 2010 (11:56 am)

    Instead of taking just the license away (lots of people drive without a valid license) I think the actual vehicle the impaired driver was using should be impounded and sold with the proceeds going toward restitution or alcohol education. That would make someone think twice before partying and driving.

  • visitor September 24, 2010 (12:12 pm)

    so many lives ruined by alcohol…

  • Born To Be Mild September 24, 2010 (12:20 pm)

    There are other crimes where the confiscation of assets would deter the behavior. I personally don’t like the fact that only drug dealers forfeit assets. How about asset forfeiture for white collar criminals?

  • Lisann September 24, 2010 (1:22 pm)

    I am so sadden by this news, GT just towed me two weeks ago and they were so very friendly, kind and reasonable, I would never use anyone else. I am thinking of the GT family and this driver’s family.

  • JAT September 24, 2010 (1:45 pm)

    A lot of people seem to have fixated on my turn of phrase “I need my car”, but in its original context there was nothing about that sentence being uttered by a criminal defendant…

    But as long as the sentence “I need my car” doesn’t raise a skeptical eyebrow among those who hear it…

    We all say it (with the exception of umm…), because we all think it’s true, but take a look out the window – we’ve given so much of our landscape to the personal automobile. Metro Transit isn’t amazing because we don’t demand that it be because we all drive everywhere.

    I’ll say it: I need my car, but I wish I didn’t, and I sure hope every one of your skeptical eyebrows just raised, and I look forward to a time with far less dependence on the personal automobile

    In the meantime we reap what we sow.

    Okay relax your eyebrows now.

  • Rick September 24, 2010 (4:12 pm)

    All of us at TBT Towing are heartbroken at the loss of Tony. He was indeed one big teddy bear who would give of himself well beyond just his job description. I had the privilege of spending some time with Tony just a couple of hours before his death. I will never forget his smile as he walked out the door with his “see ya later”. When is this state going to get serious about DUI? The cops do the absolute best they can but wimpy judges turn these animals back on the street. May the two people who killed this fine man rot in hell and the sooner the better. Tony, we will always miss you and our hearts will never be quite the same. Thanks for your smiles, your ever-present encouragement, and for just being one hell of a wonderful human being. Our prayers are with John and the entire GT Towing staff and especially Tony’s family.

  • Fellow Citizen September 24, 2010 (6:53 pm)

    So sad, so sorry for fellow GT friends. My heart aches for his family. I have always prayed for Tow Truck drivers when I see them on the road, going or coming to help someone. They put their lives in danger everytime they go to the “rescue”. Bless you all!!!

  • Mary T September 24, 2010 (7:20 pm)

    We were so sad to hear this. Tony was the guy who towed our car when it was totaled a couple months ago. He was a very nice guy and Sande, his office manager, is a delightful woman (with many tiny dogs). My heart goes out to her. : (

  • TowTruckerSteve September 25, 2010 (3:05 pm)

    I also am a tow operator (hence the name) and a loss such as Tony’s effects all Tow’ers. Even tho many of us never knew him, losing a fellow tow op is the same to us as it is to law enforcement when they lose an officer.

    This hits very close to home not only because our companies are virtual neighbors but also due to my having been given a call that night only to have it canceled because GT was closer. When I woke up and heard the news I thought “Wow, that was supposed to be me” I later learned it was a separate call. Still could have easily been any tow operator on the road.

    We have a very dangerous job and we’re all very aware, we don’t lose sleep over it we just go do the job. It’s in our blood. It angers me when I not only hear about a tragic accident like this that could have been prevented but also when I’m on the side of the freeway and 9 out of 10 cars DO NOT MOVE OVER to give us more space. And there’s even a law stating you must do so. But it doesn’t get enforced nearly as forceful as it ought to.

    So all the close calls I’ve personally had, and the few friends I’ve lost to the road, and all those I’ve heard about swim through my mind as I find a piece of black tape (all I got) to put across the company name badge on my uniform. I’ll think about this on the way to my next call, but we ALWAYS have one goal that supercedes taking care of the customer, and that is to go home at night.

    I send my prayers to the Padillo family, to the drivers at GT Towing and for ALL tow operators.
    And please PLEASE people, give us some space.


  • Mindy Bowler September 26, 2010 (11:30 pm)

    I’m so sad to hear that someone would accidentally hit some one and flee the area… What if it had been their own Brother, Father, Or Son…. How would they feel? Well. Tony was someone’s family member, and the driver just treated him (like a wild animal you leave on the side of the road and just forget about). I hope the driver gets the most punishment that the law will give someone, then make an example of him and triple it. I knew the former owners of GT Towing (Garth & Linda) and I know they built a great company, and to see this happen to it makes us all sick. I hope his family can find peace in their hearts in this hard time!!! God Bless Us All
    Momma Bowler

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