Thief leaves Good Samaritan unable to help stranded drivers

Posted at 7:09 PM, Aug 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-03 22:09:18-04

A theft has left a man some call a "highway angel" grounded.

In the past four years, Kevin Masumoto has helped more than 1,000 stranded drivers -- all free of charge.

However, that assistance has recently come to a halt.

"It breaks my heart, knowing somebody is there in need of help and I can't help them," said Masumoto.

Inspired by local Good Samaritan known as "The Highwayman," Masumoto spends much of his free time searching for stranded drivers.

"I do it because, it in my heart, I like helping people. Knowing somebody can go home and not be injured and see their family is great for me," said Masumoto.

"I'm lucky to meet someone like him," said Michelle Garcia.

Last month, Masumoto happened upon Garcia on northbound Interstate 5. Smoke was coming from under the hood of her car.

"I was with my three children and scared. I'm thinking, 'Is [it] going to explode on me?'" said Garcia.

Masumoto used a computer to diagnose the problem -- a bad sensor and hose. He waited until Garcia's husband got there and later repaired the hose.

"He could be an angel in disguise," said Garcia.

Masumoto has done it all, from tire changes to jumpstarts, to helping drivers with empty tanks. He estimates he's helped more than 1,000 drivers.

"I've been stuck on the side of the road, and knowing I can help and all the appreciation they give me puts a smile on my face and a great feeling in my heart," said Masumoto.

That smile, thought, has disappeared. About a month ago, a thief stole his 1995 Honda Accord, and the car was found abandoned a few weeks later.

Missing from his trunk were the tools of his trade -- a jack, a jumpstart box, a diagnostics computer and most of his tools.

Since he got the car back, Masumoto has noticed a series of dubious noises.

He fears transmission and other issues will soon spell the end of his car, and any chance get back on the road.

"I just want to get out there and help people. I want to help the next person in line that gets stuck," said Masumoto.

A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to help Masumoto get back on the road.