GREAT FALLS — A procession was held on Friday evening in Great Falls to honor the two tow truck drivers who lost their lives near Columbus last weekend.
Towing units from as far away as Canada and the Hi-Line participated in the procession, as well as EMS workers, the Montana Highway Patrol, the Great Falls Police Department and the Cascade County Sheriff's Office.
The event began at the old Fleet Supply location in Black Eagle before heading down to cross the 15th Street Bridge and then to River Drive.
"Just because you see emergency responders and that there's a lane open does not mean that you don't slow down," said Leah Noel, co-owner of Benski Towing. "You're breaking the law when you speed through an accident scene, so please slow down."
Similar events were held in Billings, Missoula, and Helena to honor the tow truck drivers.
William Casie Allen of Reed Point, 28 years old, and Nicholas Ryan Visser of Billings, 37, died when they were hit by a passing vehicle as they were trying to recover a vehicle in the snow on Interstate 90 on Sunday east of Columbus. It happened when a semi-truck slowed for the tow trucks that were parked in the eastbound passing lane. A driver behind the semi didn't see the semi's brake lights illuminate and moved into the passing lane to avoid a collision with the semi. The vehicle then hit the tow truck operators in the passing lane.
Visser, a husband and father, leaves behind a wife and five kids. He was a man who loved motorcycles, beards, and his wife's good cooking. He may have looked tough, but coworkers said his soul was gentle and kind. Allen was described as a sweet, soft-spoken man who loved the great outdoors, who deserved more time fishing, bow hunting and shooting.
There are GoFundMe accounts to help the families of Visser and Allen with funeral costs and other daily expenses. Click here to visit the account for Allen, and click here for the Visser account page.