Oshawa, Ontario — The Ontario towing community has come together in astounding numbers to honour a local tower that was killed in the line of duty last Thursday.
“No problem, on my way,” were the words said by 56-year-old tow truck operator Todd Burgess after receiving the call for his last towing job.
Todd, who began as a taxi driver in the Scugog and Bowmanville, Ont. areas before getting hooked on tow trucks, was assisting a stranded motorist on Highway 12 near Port Perry, Ont. when he was struck by a passing vehicle.
Todd’s coworker and friend of more than 15 years, Brad Fenney, who was also on the scene at the time of the accident, has organized a GoFundMe fundraiser in Todd’s name.
“Todd would have given anyone the shirt off his back before they even asked,” said Fenney. “We’re setting up this GoFundMe in hopes of being able to raise enough money to give him the proper send-off that he deserves.”
While Fenney set a fundraising goal of $10,000 to support his friend’s outstanding bills and funeral costs, the local community came together in astounding numbers to honour the tower, with 166 donors raising more than $16,000 in just four days.
Todd worked for Ray’s Towing and was an active member of the community, seeing all the action from his perch behind the steering wheel. According to locals, he was even deemed “the unofficial Mayor of Port Perry” for all his generous efforts in the community.
“My phone once quit working on my way to visit a friend in Port Perry,” wrote Bev Burton. “I didn’t even know where my friend lived or her phone number, as her number was in my phone. Todd allowed me to borrow his phone to call my sister and contact our friend so we could get together. Such a sweet man—I’m so sorry for your loss.”
“Long story short Todd was there when I needed him,” wrote Eleasha Fenney. “My friends and I were deep in a snowmobile trail and, when we tried to leave, our car got stuck. We tried calling everyone we knew that had a truck and they all said, ‘no.’ I knew Todd worked as a tower, so I got the courage to finally call him at one in the morning. He told me he was on his way and not to move. He showed up and right away and kept giggling about where I drove my car down into. Right away, with no stress, he got us out. He didn’t even ask for a dime.”
A memorial event, entitled “Todd’s Last Ride” will be taking place tomorrow morning— Wednesday, November 13— at 11 a.m. at 1400 Squire’s Beach Road in Pickering, Ont.
OPP Sargeant Kerry Schmidt has warned drivers to be more cautious around emergency vehicles.
“When you see flashing lights, slow down, move over, give them space,” he said. “They are trying to clear the scenes and highways and make the roads safe for everybody else.”