NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) — The North Texas towing community turned out in full force Sunday night to remember a driver killed on the job.
Zach Johnson, 24, was towing a vehicle in Lake Dallas early Monday morning when he was shot by 37-year-old Barry DeGeorge, who claimed to own the vehicle Johnson was trying to tow. DeGeorge fired at Johnson from his hotel room on the 3rd floor.
“He was a huge teddy bear,” said Joe Baker, owner of Texas Auto Towing Service. “Very nice man, very respectful young man.”
Johnson was one of his employees.
Tow truck operators from across the Metroplex met in Keller to pay their respects to Johnson and show support for his family. They turned on all the flashing lights on their wreckers and gave his dad a few things to remember him by.
“This is like a big old family,” said John Cassol with J&S Roadside Service. “We all stick together.”
Johnson’s death is a reminder of the risks tow truck operators take every day.
“I’ve been hit personally, a couple times, and I’ve been shot at,” Cassol said. “It’s nothing I want nobody to go through.”
Federal safety regulators issued a report earlier this year that found tow truck drivers are 15 times more likely to be killed on the job than the average private sector worker.
“Everybody has a family waiting for them at home, and your main goal is to get home safe,” Baker said. “So this creates an awareness for everyone in the industry.”
They hope people will show them more support and caution.
DeGeorge was arrested in Denton County last week and now faces a murder charge.