Metro company mourns loss of another tow driver; police find other driver involved in crash

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- For the second time in six years, a Smithville, Mo., tow company has lost a driver, killed on the highway Sunday night while helping a stranded motorist. Police say they have located a hit-and-run driver and their vehicle, that man is in custody awaiting charges in Clay County.

The crash happened about 11 p.m. near Interstate 35 and North Brighton Avenue.

The operator had just loaded a woman's broken down car onto his truck.

As Johnny Stewart came around the back of his tow truck to get back in the cab, his employer says another car traveling down the highway hit and killed him.

GT Towing employed Stewart for the last four or five years. He was known as hard working and customer friendly, often earning tips from drivers for going above and beyond to help them.

Stewart's boss, Amy Gresham, says the death is all too similar to what happened to her son, Blake.

In 2012, a driver struck and killed 19-year-old Blake Gresham as he helped a stranded car owner on the Bond Bridge.

"We just need these people to realize when these guys are out here working they need to slow down and move over," Amy Gresham said. "They have to have room to work. I mean we’re going to have cars, we’re going to have to have tow trucks. These guys are there to help you. These guys are there to make sure you’re not getting hurt. You’re not the one getting hit, you know what I’m saying. There's so many people who take it for granted."

Gresham founded "Move Over For Blake" a non-profit group that helped expand a Missouri law requiring drivers to move over when emergency vehicles are alongside the roadway.

Gresham says Stewart's death is the latest example of why she believes there needs to be stricter enforcement of the law, because she says many drivers still seem unwilling to move over.

Stewart's family gave this comment on Monday:

"We are devastated by the death of Johnny.  He was a good man that was killed while doing what he loved to do.  We respectfully request that you allow us our privacy at this difficult time."