Authorities in Stillwater County on Monday released the names of the two tow truck operators who were killed on Interstate 90 while working to recover a disabled vehicle.
Nicholas Ryan Visser of Billings, 37 years old, and William Casie Allen of Reed Point, 28, died on Sunday evening on the highway east of Columbus.
Officials said the men had two tow trucks set up in the eastbound passing lane on I-90 when they were hit by a truck pulling a trailer driven by an 18-year-old from Greenville, Utah.
It happened when a semi-truck slowed for the tow trucks and the Greenville man moved into the passing lane to try to avoid a collision with the semi and hit the tow truck operators.
The men worked for Hanser's Automotive in Billings, who posted on Facebook:
They were dedicated workers, and they were passionate about their families and hobbies. One was a husband and father of five who loved motorcycles and his huge family/ six trillion brothers. And beards. And hoodies. The other was a sweet little soft-spoken guy who was in love with the great outdoors and could have had another 60 years of fishing, bow hunting, and shooting ahead of him. To their families and friends: Our hearts are with you, and we will always cherish and honor the memory of the rescuers who literally lost their lives helping others. To our employees: We have lost our friends, people most of us see almost every single day, and we are here for you. To everyone else: We implore you, PLEASE, please, drive carefully and safely on snowy and icy roads. Don’t try to save two minutes of time by driving faster, don’t pass big trucks in unsafe conditions, and please ALWAYS note hazard signs, emergency flares, lightboard signals from emergency response trucks, speed recommendations, ANYTHING. Because it’s not just for your safety- it’s for ours, too. This never should have happened.
Hanser's said they will be posting memorial and fundraising information for the two men.
The Montana Highway Patrol continues to investigate the incident, who says that speed is considered a factor in the crash; alcohol and drugs are not suspected to be involved. Road conditions were icy at the time of the crash. The Greenville man was wearing a seat belt and not injured. The semi truck driver, a 54-year-old man from Minnesota, was also uninjured and wearing a seat belt.
At this point, there is no word on whether any citations will be issued or charges filed. We will update you if we get more information.