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Passenger in semi crash thankful to be alive and tow truck driver dangers

Posted at 6:19 PM, Aug 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-28 18:05:00-04

MILWAUKEE — The day after a semi slammed into a tow truck on the Mitchell Interchange there was relief that no one was killed.

A Milwaukee County Sheriff's deputy captured the collision on their dash cam. It showed the tow truck pulled over on the side of the road before the crash. The semi's cab split from its base and the trailer flipped. Three people were sent to the hospital.

Yassine Hamid said he works with the man who was driving the semi. Hamid said he was in the vehicle's sleeper compartment when the crash happened.

"I feel that the truck is bending down and make noise. By the time I wake up, I found myself on the floor. All the stuff has come over to me," said Hamid.

He explained that he always puts up the sleeper's net which acts as a barrier. After Monday's crash he had a vivid reminder of how important it is.

"I thank God. He save me yesterday," said Hamid.

Hamid and the semi's driver, Ali Abubakar, suffered cuts and were able to get out of the semi on their own. Abubakar was cited for driving too fast for conditions and failure to keep the vehicle under control.

The tow truck operator, who works at Ray's Towing, was trapped in his vehicle and had to be extricated by Milwaukee Fire.

What was left of both vehicles was taken to the Ray's Towing storage yard. Wisconsin State Patrol was there Tuesday morning inspecting the damage.

"He’s got a broken leg, two broken ribs, a cut above his eye, various other cuts and abrasions and that’s not mentioning what it’s done to him and his mind and to his family," said Mark Salentine, manager at Ray's Towing.

Salentine described the dash cam video as horrific. He hopes this story will shed light on the every day dangers in the towing industry.

"Everybody wants to know what’s the update? How’s Joe doing? And the other thing is, we can’t help but go out on the road and wonder is today the day it happens to me," said Salentine.

A study from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found the motor vehicle towing industry has a higher rate of work-related injuries and deaths compared to other industries.

Researchers reporter between 2011 and 2016, 191 people died in the motor vehicle towing industry. The leading cause of death was motor vehicle incidents, frequently involving workers on the side of the road being hit by passing cars.

Drivers in Wisconsin are required by law to slow down and move over for tow trucks. However, Salentine and others in the industry have said it rarely happens.

"Everybody needs to be so aware to slow down. We’ve got families. We’ve got love ones at home," said Salentine.