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Tow truck driver loses leg after being hit by car on highway

A veteran driver from Rusty's Auto Towing was seriously injured Sunday morning after he'd just recovered a vehicle that had skidded on icy and snowy highway conditions into a ditch.

According to Deas Island RCMP, police were called around 9:15 a.m. to a stretch of the East-West connector just west of the Knight Street on-ramp to the westbound lanes of Highway 91.

The driver was pinned between the car that lost control on the on-ramp, and the tow truck, according to one of his coworkers at Rusty's Auto Towing.

The 51-year-old victim, a single man from Surrey, was a "well experienced" tow truck driver who'd been working for Rusty's for about four years.

One of the victim's legs had to be amputated, and his other leg was also in bad shape, but doctors remained hopeful they might be able to save it.

"We're concentrating on getting him better," said Gary Tonks, president of Rusty's. Tonks said he learned of the accident around 10 a.m. Sunday, and rushed to the office to support his staff who were "horrified" by the accident.

Tonks said his employee doesn't have any local family.

Asked what can be done to assist his employee, Tonks said: "I know we're all thinking the same thing."

The victim was transported to Vancouver General Hospital by ambulance where he was sedated and then scheduled for surgery on Sunday.

The driver of the other vehicle—an older model Pontiac Sunfire—that struck the tow truck driver remained at the scene and was co-operative with police.

Investigators believe icy road conditions were mainly to blame, and police are considering charges.

Anyone who may have witnessed the crash is asked to call the Deas Island RCMP at 604-946-2184 and ask for either Const. Tarmii Miskiw or Cpl. Peter Somerville.

Police cautioned drivers that when it snows, they need to slow down and leave a lot of room between vehicles.

As well, the law requires that when an emergency vehicle is at the side of the road, drivers are required to slow down and move over.

Tonks noted that aside from having flashing lights, his employee's tow truck had a bright arrow board on its roof, making it much easier for passersby to see.

Police are investigating whether the Sunfire's tires were bald, Tonks said.

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