John Israel was a first responder you may not have heard about. Earlier this month a big rig struck and killed Israel while he was getting into his tow truck on the 10 Freeway in Cabazon.
“The semi that hit him they didn’t see him they failed to move over,” says Samantha Nunez, who speaks out for Coachella tow truck operators’ safety.
“It hits really hard when it’s your own driver, you know somebody that you see every single day.” says Paige Davis, friend and coworker of Israel.
Tow truck operators are often the forgotten first responders, but on this day his fellow tow truck drivers and other first responders remembered Israel during the Spirit Ride, an event meant to call attention to something else often forgotten, the Slow Down, Move Over Law.
“The Move Over Law says that anytime there is a vehicle on the right shoulder that’s a tow truck, a Caltrans, law enforcement, an ambulance, a fire truck, with the warning lights activated, the law says that you shall move over a lane give them some space, if you can’t move over because of traffic then you need to slow down to a speed that’s safe and prudent,” says CHP Officer Darren Meyer.
The event kicked off in the East Valley, then the procession of tow trucks took the 10 Freeway to Banning where Israel worked, then moveved on to Yucca.
Davis says Israel was supposed to be a part of the Spirit Ride, instead his wife stepped in, “She was very emotional about it but she knows that John would have wanted this.”
The lead truck carried a coffin symbolic of the 100 first responders killed every year on the side of freeways, 60 percent tow truck drivers, 100 percent preventable.