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Ride for Phil Smith will honour tow truck operator, raise awareness

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The Dean family in Tillsonburg is organizing a Feb. 12 Ride for Phil Smith, a tow truck operator killed while at work west of Ottawa on Jan. 17.

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“Phil was from Delhi and before his move to Ottawa (to be with family) he towed in Oxford County – he was part of the tow family – and we knew him and his family quite well,” said Rosemary Dean. “He was hit by a snow plow while working. There was a major storm up in Arnprior.”

The Ride will support the Smith family, keep Smith’s memory alive, and raise awareness for tow truck/road safety.

“Everyone is welcome to join the procession, which will be meeting Feb. 12 at the Norfolk Mall parking lot (400 Simcoe St., Tillsonburg) at 9:30 a.m. At 10:30 a.m. the procession will leave the Norfolk Mall to go to Delhi, passing by Murphy’s Funeral Home, and then loop around to come back to the funeral home to take
Smith for ‘his last ride in a tow truck.’

“We’re going to wait in front of the funeral home and when the funeral is over he will be taking a ride in one of our tow trucks to the Delhi German Home where he will be reunited with his family there. His son, Gabriel, one of two children, is also going to ride with us to the German Hall for the light lunch. It will mean a lot to the little guy, his mom, and it would mean a lot to Phil.”

The funeral service is at 11 a.m. Visitation is Feb. 11, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. RVSP to attend.

“We invited Oxford tow companies and Norfolk tow companies – those are the areas he’s from and worked. We also reached out to a couple companies in London and St. Thomas.”

Both Mike and Rosemary Dean said it’s important for people to know road safety laws.

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Rosemary noted that Ontario’s ‘move over law,’ or Section 159 (2,3) of the Highway Traffic Act, which states you must slow down when approaching an emergency vehicle or tow truck with flashing lights. If the road has two or more lanes, you must move over and provide a lane of space between your vehicle and the emergency vehicle.

“We’re putting this out there for awareness – we want people to move over and slow down. He (Smith) was young, 33 years old.

“All of us in the tow truck industry, when we’re out there we have families at home waiting for us, too. Phil, he didn’t get to go home to his family so we really want to get that awareness out.”

Ottawa’s towing community held a similar ride on Jan. 20.

A gofundme page in support of the family was posted by Madison Legere from Ottawa. As of Monday it had raised $28,187 of its $40,000 goal.

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