SMITHVILLE, Mo. - Hundreds of fellow tow truck drivers, friends and relatives gathered Tuesday night to remember 18-year-old Blake Gresham, who was struck and killed by a semi on Monday.
His former classmates at Smithville High School organized a vigil at the school's football field, and the word spread quickly throughout the Kansas City metro area.
"I think every tow truck in Kansas City showed up," Smithville High principal Dr. Rudy Papenfuhs said.
A precession of tow trucks with lights on and horns blowing paraded from Kansas City to Smithville as a tribute to the fallen driver.
Papenfuhs remembers the former football player as a fun-loving young man.
"He was one of those special kids that always had a smile," Papenfuhs said. "He'd always come up to me, and we had opportunities to take me out to the parking lot and show me his truck and say 'Hey look at the latest thing I put on it.'"
Gresham graduated a year early to begin working at his father's GT Towing company. Those who knew him say he had a lot ahead of him.
"When you lose one of your own, there's no explanation.There's no way to put it into words the pain and the tragedy that this family has endured and the loss of this entire community," Papenfuhs said.
The tragedy for the Gresham family goes beyond the loss of Blake. Eight years ago, his 4-year-old sister Shonna Gresham was killed when a firework hit her in her face.
"I don't know how (the parents) get up tomorrow morning and get on with life, but I'm sure they'll find a way through the strength and support of their family and loved ones," Papenfuhs said. "My thoughts and prayers are with them."
Tow truck drivers hope the fatal crash will show motorists the importance of moving at least one lane over when passing a tow truck.
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