Tow truck driver killed while stopping to help remembered at vigil

In the middle of a snowstorm, a tow truck driver pulled over to help a police officer on I-40. That good deed cost Pat Cisneros his life earlier this week. 

Friday night, dozens of people gathered to honor him. Not only that, but dozens of tow truck drivers from all across New Mexico packed an empty lot as a way to remember their friend. 

It began with a single tow truck: the engine idled and the emergency lights beamed across an empty lot. Then one turned into more than 120 tow trucks, and their drivers gathered near Second St. and I-40 all to honor one man, their competitor, but also their friend, Pat Cisneros. 

“When something happens, somebody’s down, somebody’s sick, something like this where somebody gets killed, we all come together,” Melissa Tafoya, a friend of Cisneros, said. 

Wednesday morning, a State Police officer was investigating a crash on I-40 when a semi rammed into their patrol car. Cisneros came across the crash and pulled over to help. 

State Police say Cisneros was standing outside when a semi hit him. Friday night, they honored him during a candlelight vigil. 

“Patrick is the type of person who would help anybody,” Tafoya said. 

“First you think, surely not another one,” Linda Unruh said. 

Unruh’s son, Bobby, was also a tow-truck driver who was killed two years ago. 

“I got to speak with my son minutes before that 18-wheeler hit him and his last words were to me, ‘Mom, I got this. I won’t let anyone get hurt on my watch,'” she said. 

Shortly after she helped get “Bobby’s Law” passed, expanding the state’s “Move Over Law” to include tow-trucks. 

Drivers are required to slow down and move over if they see emergency vehicles — a message Unruh says was shared among dozens of others Friday night. 

“When you see these amber lights, or police lights, or any flashing lights, whether it’s a police car or tow truck, slow down and move over,” Unruh said. 

A handful of New Mexico State Police officers were also there Friday night, including the officer who Cisneros pulled over to help. 

Police say the crash is still under investigation. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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