A roadside accident that left a tow truck driver in critical condition last week could have resulted in a hit and run if it weren’t for the quick thinking and decisive actions of one truck driver.
According to Ohio Highway Patrol Sergeant Rodney Kiefer, a box truck heading westbound on U.S. 30 had stopped in Van Wert shortly before 10 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 27 due to a flat tire on the truck’s front wheel on the driver side. Not long afterward a tow truck arrived and began working on the truck.
At 9:49 p.m., a white 2001 Ford 250 pickup struck tow truck driver Mark Campbell, 30, who was working on the tire on the highway shoulder. Ohio Highway Patrol records say the pickup’s wheels ran over the tow truck driver’s feet and the truck’s mirror struck his head.
The truck driver, Albert Lynch, 52, of Factoryville, PA, told Land Line he moved his Freightliner Classic to the highway’s left lane but noticed the pickup not moving over.
“I looked and as I went by, he (the tow truck driver) was laying on the ground,” Lynch said. “I looked in the mirror and he wasn’t moving. I looked up, and this pickup truck wasn’t stopping.”
When Lynch saw the pickup not slow down, he pulled closely behind it and flashed his high beams multiple times. Eventually, the pickup’s driver pulled over between a quarter-mile and a half-mile later, Kiefer told Land Line Magazine.
“I got right after him,” Lynch said. “I got right up to his bumper. In my opinion, he wasn’t going to stop.”
The tow truck driver was airlifted in critical condition to a hospital near his home in Fort Wayne, Ind.
As of Friday, Oct. 4, the 18-year-old pickup driver had not been charged or cited in connection with the wreck. Officers interviewed three pickup truck passengers and did not suspect alcohol played any part in the wreck.
Kiefer said his office is preparing an incident report to submit to county prosecutors for their consideration. The teen driver of the pickup could face felony charges, Kiefer said, though he declined to identify a specific felony charge related to the case.
Ohio law requires all drivers to move over when an emergency vehicle is parked on a shoulder and has lights running. The pickup did not move over, Kiefer said.
Statements to police by the pickup driver and the truck driver who caused him to pull over don’t match up, Kiefer said.
“According to the trucker, the kid made the statement that he knew he hit a person back there. The driver told us he thought he hit a vehicle, not a person. So there’s some deviation.”
According to Lynch, the impact of the wreck ripped the pickup’s right mirror off.
“How could you not tell you hit somebody?” Lynch said.
Lynch has been an owner-operator and a driver for 34 years and he’s noticed a growing problem with drivers not moving over for emergency vehicles. Helping ensure that the pickup driver stopped, he said, was just something he hoped someone would do for him.
The tow truck driver has undergone multiple surgeries to address a protruding leg, skull lacerations, and trauma to his eye sockets. Kiefer said Campbell’s condition has now been changed to stable.
“He has a long road ahead of him,” Kiefer said.
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