MILWAUKEE -- Shocking dash camera video showed the moment a semi barreled into a tow truck near the Mitchell Interchange on Monday, Aug. 26. The tow truck driver suffered a broken leg, two broken ribs, and a cut above his eye, but he was expected to be OK. Based on the extensive damage to his truck, his co-workers said he shouldn't have survived.
"This is extreme," said Mark Salentine, manager at Ray's Towing. "You would expect a fatality."
Salentine said his employee, Joe Altenhofen, was responding to a call along I-94 at Layton Avenue when a semi passing by the scene smashed into the driver's side of his truck.
"He reached for his door handle," said Salentine. "Then, could see in the mirror the trailer of the semi coming at him. The next thing he knew, he was being woken up on the floor of his truck by the Milwaukee County sheriff's deputies."
The damage to the cabin of the semi was equally extensive.
"There was a windshield here," said Yassine Hamid. "This is broke out,."
Hamid was inside at the time, asleep in the back bed, while his co-worker, Ali Abubakar, drove.
"I close this one, and then other side, this one," Hamid explained.
Hamid said Monday's downpour caused their wheels to slip on the wet pavement.
"I go straight on my side, and I hit with my shoulder," said Hamid.
Both men were treated for minor injuries.
"This was an avoidable accident," Salentine said.
The semi driver, Abubakar, was cited for driving too fast for conditions, and failure to control his vehicle -- $224 each.
Salentine said he was hopeful the crash would serve as a wake-up call for all drivers of the dangers tow truck drivers face on the side of the road.
"We're really people, seriously putting our lives on the line out there, and it shouldn't have to be that way," said Salentine. "You should be slowing down and moving over."
This wreck shut down the Mitchell Interchange to southbound traffic for more than four hours. The lanes reopened to traffic just as the evening rush was getting underway on Monday.