SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - An SUV struck and killed a tow truck driver who was standing on the shoulder of eastbound state Route 52 Thursday evening.
California Highway Patrol officers said the tow truck driver was responding to a disabled vehicle when he was hit by a suspected DUI driver on SR-52 near Santo Rd. shortly after 5 p.m.
CHP said the tow truck driver was hooking a disabled trash truck up to his vehicle when the suspected drunken driver hit him.
The tow truck driver died at the scene. While his name was not released by the county Medical Examiner, his family identified him to 10News as Fred Griffith.
The suspected DUI driver was pulled over and arrested shortly after the incident by an off-duty officer who witnessed the incident.
CHP identified that driver of the SUV as Michael Gilbert Gray. Authorities said Gray was driving without a valid license at the time of the incident. He is being charged with first-degree murder, hit-and-run, gross vehicular manslaughter, driving under the influence, and driving under the influence resulting in bodily injury.
According to police records, Gray has DUI-related priors.
The victim's family released this statement to 10 News on Saturday:
"Fred Griffith was one of the most caring, and special people in the Santee Community. He was loved very much by his 3 sons, his wife, and his countless friends through RoadOne Towing, The Fire Department, California Highway Patrol and countless other organizations and groups. He will be so sincerely missed by his family and friends. We hope that you can join us in mourning, and we all wish to remind people to please, never drink and drive. It takes innocent lives."
A GoFundMe account has been set up to assist the family. To donate, click here.