Tow truck drivers face danger when helping stranded motorists

A car comes within a foot of this tow truck on the Sunshine Skyway courtesy Dean Howard

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla.  (WFLA) – In the wake of the deadly hit-and-run crash that killed tow truck driver Roger Perez-Borotto, drivers around the Tampa Bay area are keeping their eyes peeled more than ever before.

Tow truck drivers are doing everything possible to stay alive as they do their jobs.

Roger Perez-Borroto, family photo via GoFundMe
Roger Perez-Borroto, family photo via GoFundMe

When our cars break down on the side of the road, we count on these men and women to come to our rescue.

“It definitely has its dangerous moments,” said Dean Howard of Jimmy’s Towing in Clearwater.

READ MORE: Howard Frankland hit-and-run accident victim’s sister speaks out

After 14 years behind the wheel, Howard knows just how dangerous Bay area roads can be. “There’s a few times I’ve had to physically jump out of the way because I sensed they were getting physically too close,” he told News Channel 8, vividly recalling the instances.

8 On Your Side asked him if it’s ever gotten to the point where he may have been hit or killed.  “There’s a couple situations,” Howard said. “The Skyway Bridge is a bad one.”

He showed us a picture he took as he tried to hook up a car on the side of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge just last week. You can clearly see in the side mirror, how close a car comes to Howard’s truck.

READ MORE: Police detain suspect in deadly Howard Frankland hit-and-run

With cars coming that close, Howard said he’s worried about his safety, his fellow tow truck drivers’ safety and the safety of first responders.

“I see ’em buzzing by cops when cops are on the side of the road and they’re more of a, they’re the first responders, more of an emergency vehicle than we are,” he said.

Roger Perez-Borotto and his wife, family photo
Roger Perez-Borotto and his wife, family photo

Florida law requires drivers to move over for first responders and tow truck drivers. If you fail to move, you can face fines.

“It’s not that they don’t know (the law),” Howard said. “I just don’t think, they don’t care.”

Howard said Perez-Borotto’s killing is a tragic reminder that it could happen to any of the people we count on to come to our rescue. “We do what we can to stay safe and try to follow our procedures,” he said.

Howard added that he thinks twice about going on a call. “More so than ever,” he said.

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