Tow truck operator killed in Illinois served as volunteer firefighter

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EAST CARONDELET, Ill. – The East Carondelet community is mourning the loss of a man known for his generosity. Wade Bivins, 57, was struck and killed on Interstate 255 Wednesday. He was a tow truck operator responding to a call for a vehicle that had trouble.

“I never heard the man say no to anything and I don’t care what time of the day or night it was,” East Carondelet Mayor Herb Simmons said.

Bivins was a volunteer firefighter with Prairie Du Pont Fire Department. He served on the East Carondelet Emergency Services Disaster Agency and even volunteered to play Santa Claus for community Christmas celebrations.

Simmons and other community members gathered on Wednesday to mourn the loss. Bivins was a husband, father, and grandfather.

“He’s a first responder, and he’s out there helping someone that’s broke down and just think if they would have just moved over,” Simmons said.

Illinois State Police responded near I-255 and Route 3 when Bivins was struck. Investigators believe he was loading a vehicle, walked around the left side of the tow truck and was struck. The driver who struck the operator stayed on the scene, according to authorities.

Bivins worked for Paw Paw Towing. He was considered family and joined the company earlier this year, according to a manager. That manager said Bivins recently sprang into action to help a baby locked in a vehicle.

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Other towing companies are also calling on drivers to slow down, move over, and put down their phones.

“I’ve got six kids and I’d like to come home to them every night,” said Chad Smith, lead driver for Pippin Towing and Recovery in Festus.

He said far too many drivers have phones in their hands, even though it’s against the law in both Illinois and Missouri. Missouri only recently passed legislation banning drivers from having their phones in their hands.

Rachel Pippin, owner of the company, has a wall of photographs depicting images from calls resulting in near danger.

“It’s a dangerous industry and I just would like more awareness to the public about how dangerous it is,” she said.


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