NORTH HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — State police are seeking witnesses to a fatal incident on Interstate 91 in North Haven Saturday night.
An employee of a roadside assistance tow truck company died while helping a driver in distress around 7 p.m., according to the North Haven Fire Department.
The tow truck driver, identified by family and coworkers as 37-year-old Christopher Russell from Ellington, had pulled over to provide help on I-91 northbound near exits 10 and 11 in North Haven.
Russell was then hit by another car while helping someone change a tire in the breakdown lane.
The North Haven Police Department and Connecticut State Police have not indicated if an arrest has been made.
Russell’s coworkers at RTT LLC in South Windsor are planning on creating a memorial at the crash site, according to another employee. They also intend on returning his truck home as a way to pay their respects.
His coworkers are asking people to respect the “Move Over” Law, which is enforced in all 50 states. This law instructs drivers to move over to another lane if an emergency vehicle is pulled over and provide aid. Tow trucks giving roadside assistance fall under this category.
“Hardworking. Never said no. Even on the hardest days, he never said no,” said Harley Garcia, operations manager at RTT, LLC. “Sometimes wouldn’t have the biggest smile about doing it, but he would go get the job done always. He cared about how he looked doing it. He always tried to exceed my expectations when it came to how he operated, how he serviced our customers.”
Katie Napolitano said Russell was so much more than a coworker and described him as a goofy, fun-loving guy who rescued animals and helped others.
“He was a mentor, a brother to me,” she said. “Any questions I had about towing, Chris knew the answer. Anything I needed to know about towing, Chris knew it.”
Russell’s coworkers and state police urge drivers to follow the “Move Over” law.
“You need to pay attention to those lights, whether it’s police, fire, or tow trucks,” Napolitano said. “You need to pay attention and move over because we are out there doing a service just like police, and we want to come home to our families.”
News 8 talked to Connecticut Trooper Cash, who was nearly hit as he was issuing a citation. He provided footage of that incident which shows a close call that could have turned deadly because the person did not move over.
The video below is from News 8 at 10 on May 22, 2022.
Correction: This was incorrectly reported as Route 15. It has since been changed to Interstate 91.