If the car was a half a foot to the right, it would have been much different. Brad Ingram would probably be dead.
Ingram owns and operates Blackjack Towing, and around 6 p.m. on Nov. 6, he was loading a car that had hit a deer on Hwy. 53, near Chetek. After retrieving tow straps from the cab of his flatbed tow truck—which had its emergency lights on—he turned around to close the driver’s side door, along the lane of traffic.
“Something hit my hand, and all the straps I had in my hand, one of the straps hit my leg,” Ingram recalled. A car hit his hand, nearly striking him. “It made a lot of noise.”
It was a close call, and he doesn’t think the driver even noticed him. He saw no brake lights and the car didn’t slow.
The strike to his hand left his hand and wrist sore and stiff and the flying tow straps caused a bad bruise on his leg, Ingram said. But not five minutes later, he had to jump up on the tow deck to avoid getting hit by a semitruck.
“Six inches, it could have been it,” he said. He likely would have been thrown into his tow truck or crushed.
“Move Over or Slow Down,” is the motto of a video produced by Chetek-area emergency services and Dahlhouse Enterprises and released on Nov. 21.
In the video, Chetek firefighters, police, emergency medical technicians, public works crews, Ingram and his employees all appear. They hold signs showing they are fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, brothers or sisters and have family and friends who want them to return home safely.
The message comes from the state law that requires motorists in Wisconsin to change lanes or slow down for any emergency, utility, tow truck or maintenance vehicle on the side of the road with its flashing lights on.
Ingram is baffled of why drivers don’t slow down and move over for all vehicles on the side of the road, for safety and as a courtesy. It was something he was taught when he was a trucker. Now, he sees posts online of notices about tow truck operators getting hurt or killed all too often.
“It is a dangerous job, and all people need to do is slow down and drive safer,” he said.
Ingram said he now prefers to have a police squad on scene for traffic control before he loads up a vehicle on the highway. He’s told his drivers that if they don’t feel safe, to stay in the truck and wait for a squad.
Now winter, things can get extra dicey. He’s removed stuck vehicles from snowy ditches and watched other drivers hit the same icy patch and go in the ditch next to him.
When there are snow storms and the roads are bad, “stay off the roads unless you absolutely have to,” he said.
Ingram hoped that more drivers will pay more attention to the road and follow the move over or slow down law.
See the “Move Over or Slow Down” video on the Chetek Police Department’s Facebook page.