Aiken, SC (WJBF) – A gloomy homecoming today for the tow truck driver who died in an accident on Thursday. His body was returned from the GBI crime lab.
Jason Willis’ body was escorted by a convoy of tow trucks from Atlanta on Saturday morning. I’ve spoken to several people who said the towing community is closely related and that hit them hard.
Ray Sutton III is a co-owner of Sutton’s Towing and Recovery from Dearing, Ga. He said the community is like family.
“You know, we all nibble and talk about each other and joke back and forth, but at the end of the day when this happens it could very easily be us or a family member or a friend. And we take it pretty seriously, ”said Sutton.
Dozens of CSRA tow trucks drove to Atlanta to take Willis’ remains to the Shellhouse Funeral Home in Aiken. People lined interstate exits to show their respect.
When they arrived, they gathered on the lawn to support Willis’ wife.
“We try to show our support not only for the family, but also for the company. You know, when you work together for so long and you get this compulsion, you really build a strong bond. And yeah, you know it’s just hard to explain. It’s just a family, ”Sutton explained.
Willis was hit by an unknown driver early Thursday morning while loading a vehicle onto his truck.
All fifty states have move over laws that require drivers to change lanes or slow down when a rescue worker is on the side of the road. A man says he’s trying to stay vigilant while driving.
“Whenever I’m in traffic I try to drive and look into the distance and if you see any kind of flashing light, be it the police or a flashing amber light. I immediately try to slow down and move, ”said David Brooks.
In 2018, the SCDOT announced that 100 first responders are killed on roads every year, 60 of whom are tow truck drivers. Sutton said the community was saddened by the loss of Willis, but also angry. He said the move over law is seldom followed and puts lives in danger.
“Unfortunately, the law isn’t that it’s not enforced, it’s that people just don’t want to take the 30 seconds of a day to look after our lives. Taking care of us by the roadside, ”Sutton said.
He also said that if people paid more attention and obeyed the law, it would save lives.
“Only thirty seconds is all it takes. Just walk by, walk by us, come by again. Thirty seconds and someone would have a father today. Someone would have a husband. “
A family member who refused to go on camera said the family was very grateful for the community support.
The family will host a tour of the Shellhouse Funeral Home in Aiken on Sunday from 2 p.m. to 2 p.m. The funeral will take place on Monday at 2 a.m. in NewSpring Church, also in Aiken.
CLICK HERE for the GoFundMe page set up for the family.