Tow truck driver dies in wreck just months before his wedding, Georgia family says

Screengrab from Herb VonderLinden's public Facebook post

A 49-year-old tow truck driver was just months away from getting married when he was killed in a crash in Georgia.

The tow truck driver was assisting a crash along Interstate 85 in Coweta County around 7 a.m. on March 15, the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office said in a release. News reports have identified the driver as Toby Bowden, 49.

While Bowden was helping the first crash, another crash happened, which killed Bowden, the release said. A patrol deputy standing next to Bowden had non-life-threatening injuries.

The driver in the second crash was going too fast as he passed by, swerved to the right and lost control of his vehicle, the Newnan Times-Herald reported.


The driver, identified as 31-year-old Christopher Thornton of Franklin, was arrested at the scene for a previous warrant and faces charges of first-degree vehicular homicide, move-over law violation, reckless driving, driving under the influence, failure to maintain lane and too fast for conditions, the Times-Herald reported.

Bowden was a retired Marine and was engaged to be married, his friends and family shared on Facebook. Bowden’s sister said on Facebook that the tow truck driver and his fiance were “literally sending out wedding invitations” for the fall at the time he was killed.

“I was just told that we have lost yet another one of my Marine Corps brothers,” Herb VanderLinden said on Facebook. “Toby Bowden rest in peace brother and your family will be in our prayers.”

“Rest in peace my life long dearest friend,” Bowden’s friend Chris McWhorter wrote on Facebook. “Some things I just can’t understand...I will always hear your laugh and hold our memories to heart.”

Members from the trucking and law enforcement community spoke out, too, urging other drivers to slow down when they see work on the sides of highways and never to drive under the influence.

“We’ve actually had operators quit because their family were worried about them having to work on the side of the road, as so many people are getting killed,” Executive Vice President of the Towing and Recovery Association of Georgia Angela Roper told FOX5. “It hits us all very hard in this industry because we face it so much.”

Bowden, who was also a father, was the first recorded tow truck driver to be killed while working in Coweta County, 11 Alive reported.

“My heart was broken…I’ve known Toby probably 20 years, we’ve worked together, we see each other out and about at breakfast whatever immediately you start thinking I’m never going to see him again,” Southside Wrecker owner Jeff Poqutte told 11 Alive. “He’s been a part of this community for a very long time.”

The crashes occurred just south of Newnan, which is 40 miles southwest of Atlanta.

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