February 6, 2012, Heidi wrote a letter to the International Towing
& Recovery Museum in Chattanooga Tennessee on behalf of Andy to be
included on the Wall Of The Fallen.
|PLEASE BE ADVISED: This letter contains
some graphic details of the accident. Some names have been changed and/or removed to preserve the identity of parties involved.
Dear Wall of the Fallen Board of Directors:
I would like to introduce myself- my name is Heidi
Richcreek, President of HJ Towing & Recovery, Inc. located in
Landisburg and Carlisle, Pennsylvania. I am writing today on behalf of
my coworker and friend, Andrew C. Smith, to be included on The Wall of
the Fallen. I have also enclosed the application for the Survivor Fund
for Monetary Assistance so his son, Chandler who just turned three,
would be able to benefit from your program. On the application, you
have requested information regarding the accident- they are as follows.
On Tuesday, January 3, 2012 Andrew started work
around 2:30PM because we were very busy that day. He normally works
second shift which is 3:00pm to 11:00pm. Andrew and his coworker, Bob,
were dispatched for a company to tow a truck and trailer from Bedford
to the companies terminal in Shippensburg. Bob and Andrew departed
around 11:30pm with Andrew arriving at the Carlisle shop and Bob
heading toward the Landisburg shop. at 11:30PM Jake (the dispatcher at
the time) dispatched Andrew to Route 581 Westbound for a disable Dodge
pickup with one passenger, a man from Mechanicsburg, for AAA. Andrew
called Jake back around 11:45PM because the vehicle was not in the
exaxt location that AAA had given us and eventually Andrew came upon
When Andrew arrived on scene, as always with Andy-
"safety first", his lights were turned on and Andrew went to work. The
Dodge pickup was loaded onto the bed of the GMC rollback and Andrew was
at the rear controls- only seconds away from securing the bed and
leaving the scene. In fact the bed only needed to go four more inches
to be secured. Unfortunately for Andrew, those were devasting seconds
that took his life. The AAA customer explained the next day that a
(NAME REMOVED) truck and trailer driven by a New York man never "moved
over". In fact, there were no other vehicles on the road at that time.
If the truck driver would have moved over Andrew would be here today-
but instead, he did not and the truck hit Andrew at the controls,
sideswiped the rollback, took off the driver side mirror, damaged the
front end of the rollback and the wrost damage of all was when Andrew
was laying 15 feet in front of the rollback on the road- lifeless. The
AAA customer stayed with Andrew and called 911 for an ambulance. No
money or piece of equipment could ever compare to losing our friend and
coworker. It was estimated by the state police that Andrew was hit
around 12:07AM on Wednesday, January 4th, 2012.
The state police contacted Jake and I (Jake is my
husband and we are owners of HJ Towing) and arrived at our house. We
could not believe our ears and literally dropped to the floor. This
could not be real- this was just a dream. The state police ahad to keep
repeating these awful words to us until it finally sunk in. When we
somewhat gathered our thoughts we had to make some decisions. Jake
drove to the scen with one of our other drivers to tow our rollback
back to the shop. Coincidentally, this same driver was rerouted about
1/4 of a mile from the scen and could see all of Andrew's lights on the
rollback and did not even know this his friend and coworker was lying
on the road- covered up by a blanket. Our rollback was checked and
found to be legal and safe, as well as Andrew's work. The state police
asked me to ride with them to Duncannon to inform Andrew's mother and
family of the tragedy. This was the most horrifying night of my life-
having to tell a mother that her son was taken way too soon.
The next day was very solemn at HJ Towing. My guys
were very shocked and upset as I told them one by one of the
unfortunate tragedy. Yes, that is what it is- a tragedy- a young,
vibrant, hard-working, funny, always eager and ready to go attitude
with such a zest for life 23-year-old man who had so much more to offer
to the world and he was taken way too soon. Andrew was always in a good
mood and would always make you laugh. The worst part about this is that
Andrew left being a 3-year-old son- Chandler- who will never know his
father the way he should have.
Andrew's services were held Tuesday, January 10,
2012 in Wesley United Methodist Church in Marysville and he was buried
in Evergreen Cemetary in Duncannon. I put a logo on the back of his
favorite wrecker, "Shrek", a 1995 Peterbilt 35-ton wrecker that states
"Now You're Running God's Wrecker" with his picture beside the saying.
We also put In Loving Memory of Andy on the side of the bunk of Shrek.
Jake built and welded a "carrier" to transport Andy's casket near the
wheel lift so Andy could take his last ride in his favorite wrecker.
Immediately following the accident, the family of
towing was absolutely amazing. We received calls of concern,
condolences and offers to help us in any way from towing companies all
over Pennsylvania. In fact, we had a convoy of tow trucks from
Pennsylvania, Maryland, and even Virginia that followed Shrek in
support of Andrew. The support was overwhelming and also comforting at
the time. I refused four interviews from local news stations at
Andrew's funeral because at the time I did not feel it was appropriate.
However, the fifth request I did not refuse because the owner of one of
our towing neighbors stated "Heidi, do this for Andy". I slowly turned
around and did a television interview and hopefully this will get the
point across for all motorists- the "Move Over Law". I stressed the
importance of highway safety for emergency vehicles because we are
there to help you. I must say, we had numerous calls regarding this law
and comments from people in the community. In fact, while eating at a
local restaurant a waitress recognized me from the interview and made a
point to come and talk to me about how she was never aware of this law
and how she always makes a point to be safer. Even though the awareness
of this law is too late for Andrew, hopefully it will save another life
or lives- this would be what Andrew would have wanted.
In closing, I would like to thank the Board of
Directors for having a "Wall Of the Fallen" to honor all of those tow
truck drivers taken in the line of duty- they deserve it. We miss
Andrew's laugh and bright smile everyday and will never forget our
brother who was taken too soon.
Heidi Richcreek, President