Tow truck company whose driver was hit: This could have been prevented

(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(image: Hawaii News Now)
(image: Hawaii News Now)
(image: Hawaii News Now)
(image: Hawaii News Now)

WAHIAWA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Friends and colleagues of a tow truck driver who was struck while hooking up a vehicle hope the case underscores the importance of being aware of emergency vehicles on the road.

The victim's employer, Matthew Barros, said the incident has "shaken the entire industry."

"I think it's woken up a lot of tow truck drivers in other companies," said Barros, who owns Empire Towing & Recovering. "This is a hui. It's a brotherhood and a sisterhood and really we have to watch each other's backs when nobody else can."

Val Tua was hooking up a car on Kuna Road in Wahiawa last Thursday morning when the 25-year-old truck driver was struck by a speeding car.

He continues to fight for his life, his family said.

Family members said Tua is a newlywed, with a young daughter. The couple are expecting a son in the next few weeks.

Tua was rushed to the hospital with severe leg injuries after the crash.

His loved ones say he has been sedated since the wreck and his legs will need reconstructive surgery.

In 2012, Hawaii enacted the "Move Over" law, which requires motorists to slow down and move over when approaching emergency vehicles and tow trucks that are stopped for an emergency or rendering assistance on the side of the road.

"What happened to Val has made a huge impact and we all realize how precious life is," Barros said, adding that he hopes the incident can be a lesson for everyone on the road.

"What happened is an accident that could have been prevented," Barros said.

Barros allowed Hawaii News Now to shadow him on a call recently to expose how dangerous the job can be.

"You never thought that something like this could happen to one of your brothers. It shakes you up, it really does," he said.

Barros took the Hawaii News Now crew to a dangerous spot along the H-2 Freeway northbound, right before the Mililani-Mauka exit where the shoulder is especially narrow.

Most motorists didn't move over or even appear to slow down.

Barros warned the Hawaii News Now photographer several times of oncoming vehicles coming dangerously close.

"Feel free to jump on the hood," he shouted.

According to the Tow Truck Association of America, a tow truck driver is killed on the job every six days.

Barros hopes the recent incident spurs people to slow down and move over around emergency vehicles.

"Val is a great worker. He loves what he does and if anybody's ever been towed by him, you know, it shows. He loves what he does, he loves to help people and getting people out of harm's way. And that's what he was doing on that morning," Barros said.

"We're here for you when you need us and we expect the same respect in return."

To help the family, a GoFundMe page has been set up.

Copyright 2017 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.