Memorial service held for tow trucker operator killed while loading another vehicle onto a wrecker

MUSKOGEE, Okla. — The tow trucking community came together on Saturday to pay tribute to one of their own who was killed while trying to help a driver at the side of the road.

John Mills was a tow truck driver for Red Beard’s Towing in Muskogee. He was hit by a vehicle and died last weekend at the side of US-69 in Wagoner County while he was helping a stranded driver.

He was 31 years old, married and had a 15-month-old son.

A memorial service was held Saturday at Timothy Baptist Church in Muskogee.

After the service, there was demonstration by tow truck drivers to raise awareness of the need to slow down and move over for wreckers helping people at the side of the roads. Mills’ truck lead the procession.

Tow truck drivers came from Iowa, Arkansas, Missouri, Texas and all over Oklahoma. They said they wanted to pay tribute and educate the public so Mills didn’t die in vain.

”This is John Mills, this should be his legacy, hopefully we can get a law named after him, hopefully we can get some big changes made after him, hopefully people from outside see us and and say, ‘These guys are passionate about this and something needs to change’,” said Mack Parks, the owner of Red Beard’s Towing.

Elaine Hilz, whose family owns Checker Wrecker in Lawton, is the Secretary of the Oklahoma Wreckers Owners Association. She said there are no words to describe what happened.

“I mean there’s no words to describe it. It’s something that every person that we passed by today, you could see the impact it had on them,” she said.

Cale Corntassel is a tow truck driver and was friends with Mills. He said they were honoring Mills today.

“Something’s got to be done different, if this can move the needle even a little bit then we’ll have done our job, we’re honoring John and this hasn’t gone in vain,” he said.

At the service, Muskogee Police played one final call in Mills’ honor.

“From all wrecker drivers, coast to coast, we wish that John Mills rest in peace, we’ll take the calls from here,” the call said.

In Oklahoma, state law says drivers have to change lanes and slow down if they’re coming up on a stationary authorized emergency vehicle or a licensed wrecker with a flashing amber light or red and blue lights.

Bryan Albrecht, the President of the Oklahoma Wreckers Owners Association said people don’t always do that and it’s time for things to change.

“That next speeding bullet that comes down the highway, may be the one that gets us, and so we just ask people to slow down, move over to the next lane if possible, or at least slow down five to 10 mile and hour just pay attention to us ‘til they pass us,” he said.

At a memorial meal held on Saturday evening, Neil Hayes, the State Representative for District 13, presented Mills’ wife with a citation of bereavement from the governor.