KALAMA, Wash. (KOIN) — A caravan of tow trucks filed along I-5 Friday night to pay tribute to a co-worker killed Wednesday while helping a disabled motorist on the shoulder near Kalama.
Raymond Mitchell was pinned against his tow truck when the rear trailer of a log truck swerved and struck him. The young father was only 33.
A cross was strapped to the bed of one of the tow trucks in the caravan, to be placed at the spot where he died to serve as a permanent memorial.
Taylor Ahola was Mitchell’s TLC Towing co-worker and was with him at the time of the crash.
He said the log truck’s trailer “rode up on the rail and pretty much pinched my buddy between the truck and the trailer.”
The devastating thing about this tragedy is that it could have been avoided. Ahola said if the log truck driver had moved over it wouldn’t have happened.
“It’s something I don’t wish anybody to ever see. I held my buddy in my arms and he passed away,” he told KOIN 6 News. “It was pretty horrific. I still have flashbacks. I’m still dealing with some pretty heavy trauma.”
Ahola said Mitchell was his mentor.
“We actually called him the ‘tow vulture.’ He was always the first one to get out there, even at 12, 1 in the morning,” Ahola said. “Always had a smile on his face, never turned down work, and if he couldn’t figure it out, he was going to figure it out.”
Mitchell’s death really hurts, he said.
“I looked up to him. He taught me everything I know about towing. So I could never repay him for that other than to carry his legacy out there.”
The cross and memorial to Raymond Mitchell will serve as a reminder to drivers: Move over and save a life.
“If you see us in those lanes, and you see our lights on, please move over. It’s a not a risk anybody wants to take. It’s not a life anyone wants to take,” Ahola said. “I’m missing a great friend. My company is missing a great employee. His family is missing a great man.”
The Washington State Patrol continues to investigate the crash. Charges may follow.