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Tow truck driver killed by suspected drunk driver

Posted: 8:39 AM, Nov 19, 2018
Updated: 2018-11-19 19:56:01-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A suspected drunk driver is now charged in a hit and run that killed a tow truck driver.

Frankie Lee Jones, 44, has been charged with leaving the scene of an accident.

At GT Towing in Smithville, they are remembering 39-year-old John Stewart.

"It's been kind of quiet here today. The guys are not happy, chipper like they usually are," Amy Gresham, one of the co-owners, said.

Many simply knew him as "Johnny," a hard-working driver.

"He could conquer anything. I mean you could send him out to do whatever and he would make sure he got it done," Gresham said.

Late Sunday night, Stewart was sent to I-35 near North Brighton to help a stranded motorist.

Police said he was about to haul away a broken-down silver Toyota when they say another driver, later identified as 44-year-old Frankie Jones, struck him and kept going.

"There's no reason why that guy couldn't have moved over, he could have just switched lanes [in] two seconds," Gresham said.

According to court documents, Jones admitted to investigators that he had been drinking prior to the crash and gave consent for a blood draw.

A witness who took pictures of the scene said the driver approached him and asked, "How much money would you like?" before leaving the scene. 

Court documents say Jones's license had previously been revoked.

Stewart passed away at the scene.

His wife, Brooke Stewart, said in a statement, "We are devastated by the death of Johnny. He was a good man that was killed while doing what he loved to do."

The family also asked for privacy.

Gresham knows that pain.

"It's a constant fight for our guys to be out there working all the time every day," she said.

She lost her son Blake in August 2012.

The 18-year-old was towing a Jeep near the Kit Bond Bridge when a truck hit him.

His parents started the non-profit "Move Over For Blake".

They hold an annual event reminding drivers to slow down and move over for tow drivers and first responders.

"Take responsibility while you're out there driving put your phones down, pay attention to what's going on around you," Gresham said.

Stewart's family is planning to hold a candlelight vigil Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Harmony Vineyard Church located at 600 NE 46th Street in Kansas City, Missouri.