Saturday, February 25, 2017

Tow truck driver critically injured after car smashes at the back of his truck near Schofield Barracks’ Lyman Gate.

Tow company urges drivers to slow down after worker critically injured near Schofield Barracks

By Elyssa Arevalo

Updated: February 23, 2017, 5:12 pm

The owner of a towing company is pleading with drivers to slow down after one of his workers was hit while on the job.

It happened just before 6:30 a.m. on Kunia Road, near Schofield Barracks’ Lyman Gate.

Police say the 25-year-old man was about to tow a vehicle when a car slammed into the back of his truck, which was in the right-hand lane.

“He had one of the trucks hooked up and was in the process in securing that truck when he was at the back of his tow truck and a third vehicle rear-ended him,” said Lt. Carlene Lau with the Honolulu Police Department.

According to Emergency Medical Services, the man was hospitalized in critical condition with injuries to both legs.

Police say speed may have been a factor in the crash. The posted speed limit on that stretch of road is 35 mph.

The driver works for Empire Towing. The company’s owner, Matthew Barros, says his entire crew is shaken.

“We’re praying that our driver pulls through and that nothing long-term happens to him that’s bad,” Barros said.

Hawaii has had a “move-over” law since 2012, which requires drivers to move over if an emergency or service vehicle is parked along the side of the road.

If you can’t move over, state law says the driver should slow down to a reasonable speed that’s safe.

Barros says that rarely happens, and tow trucks are often disregarded.

“I’ve been hit by car mirrors, because the people get so close to us,” Barros said. “I cannot tell you how many times just this month that I’ve almost been hit.”

We asked what safety procedures are in place for his tow truck drivers.

“Strobe lights come on. Drivers are always looking in their rear view mirrors before they even step out of the vehicle,” Barros said. “We’re always trying to work on the side of the truck where traffic is not gonna be. … At times, we light up road flares, but even when you light up road flares, people hit the road flare.”

Barros says each call is handled case by case, but his drivers will call HPD for assistance if needed.

“We put our lives on the line every time our boots touch the road, and if you could give us some space to work, we’d appreciate it,” he said. “(The victim) has a family. We all have families. Everybody has families, and what is five minutes to slow down?”

Honolulu police tell us the driver who crashed into the truck was not cited at the scene.

The crash remains under investigation.