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Kansas City towing community holds tribute for fallen driver

Posted at 10:18 PM, Nov 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-22 12:18:01-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — On this Thanksgiving eve, many didn't think they would find themselves consoling each other while remembering John "Johnny" Stewart.

The 39-year-old tow truck driver lost his life Sunday night after a suspected drunk driver struck him on I-35 near North Brighton.

"It's very touching, very touching. It opens a lot of wounds," Amy Gresham, co-owner of GT Towing said.

Gresham lost her son, Blake, as he towed a Jeep six years ago.

"These guys are a small village, and everybody needs to know they've got to move over when they see guys working," Gresham said.

Wednesday evening, they hoisted the same flag used to honor him every year. But this time in memory of Stewart. 

"It really feels like a giant punch in the gut as a tow truck driver," David Wilke, a driver with Santa Fe Towing said.

The twinkling of emergency lights served as a way to honor Stewart, decals that read "Tow Lives Matter" were another.

"We thought about doing bracelets and stuff then we came up with these because everybody cares and stuff and it would be a lot easier to keep so that's why we decided to do these," Bailey Bennett, Stewart's cousin said.

Hannah Edmisten's father has been a part of the towing community for thirty years.

"I just want my dad to home every day," Edmisten said. "I'm so scared that it might be him."         

She wants drivers who see a tow truck or any first responder to slow down and move over.

"This is horrible that this is happening and it's just painful and shocking for our family because you never think it's going to happen to you or someone close to you," Edmisten said.

According to Stewart's family attorney, the family has opened a memorial account at Citizens Bank and Trust to help pay for funeral expenses. Checks can be made out to Citizens Bank with reference to Brooke Stewart or Brooke Stewart directly.