LYNNWOOD, Wash. — The tow truck operator community gathered for a vigil in Lynnwood Thursday to remember the loss of one of their own.
Joe Masterson, 49, died after being struck by a semi-truck on I-5 in Milton Tuesday. Washington State Patrol troopers said Masterson was in the process of towing a vehicle on the freeway shoulder when the truck veered toward him and hit him.
"Somebody lost their life, as they were trying to help somebody else," WSP Trooper Robert Reyer told KING 5 on Tuesday.
The 65-year-old driver of the FedEx semi-truck was arrested on suspicion of DUI, but was later released until charges could be filed, according to Reyer, who said the crash investigation is ongoing.
John Lux, a tow truck operator of 15 years and owner of Shannon Towing Inc. in Lynnwood, said he knew Masterson, and wanted to help remember his life.
"When you're able to meet somebody and remember them, that's what kind of person Joe was. He would always help people out," Lux said.
Lux and other tow operators gathered at a parking lot in Lynwood to light up their trucks to show support of Masterson's life and work.
Lux said he knows what it's like working on the road, describing it like being in front of a Nascar race.
"You're seeing these cars buzzing by, but you're really not seeing them. That's how it feels. It's an adrenaline rush. You're thinking about, what could happen?" Lux said.
In Washington, an existing "move over" law requires drivers to merge away from an emergency or work zone on a roadway and if drivers cannot merge, they must slow down.
The towing industry wants to take it a step further this year, to increase safety.
"We had two tow truck operators killed in the line of duty in Cowlitz County last year alone," Rep. Ed Orcutt (R-Kalama) said in a House Transportation Committee hearing earlier this month.
State lawmakers are hearing House Bill 1709, which would let tow truck operators use not only red lights but rear-facing blue lights to increase visibility when they are pulled over.
Lux said he supports the bill and added, Masterson's family is not alone.
"We have a very large community and family that support them. We're going to make sure we support them in every way they need," Lux said.