•Victim’s friends point fingers to tow truckers
THE tragic death of East Londoner Thorin Mallinson 24, in a collision involving a tow truck on the N6 to Stutterheim last Tuesday has sparked outrage on Facebook.
His parents, James and Sharon Mallinson, said according to eyewitnesses at the scene, two tow trucks were allegedly involved. They claimed one of the tow trucks was allegedly overtaking the other, when it collided with their son’s Corsa bakkie. He died on the scene.
In a collective outcry, Mallinson’s friends have vented their feelings on social media towards the apparent lack of regulatory controls around tow truck drivers.
The Facebook page “Justice for Thorin” has received more than 4000 likes since the incident, with many followers sharing stories about other incidents involving alleged negligent tow truck drivers. The Facebook site administrators have chosen to remain anonymous out of fear of victimisation, as the campaign gains momentum – and the towing industry feels the pressure. Thorin’s father said he was pleased with the mature way in which the administrators have run the site, expressing his solidarity with the campaign.
Thorin’s mother, better known for Sharon’s Art School, said: “I have not had a chance to look at the site yet, but I am behind the idea.
“There needs to be a change in the legislation on tow trucks. My son is not the first person to die like this and he will not be the last. I would like to use this death to make a difference and see a new legislation put in place. He could not lose his life in vain. Something needs to be done.”
The Mallinson family posted a message on the Facebook page urging tow truck drivers to “pledge to uphold the law and abandon their reckless driving behaviour” and see change in agreements between insurance companies, medical aids and towing companies.
They also stated that they would like to see a change in legislation for towing vehicles to curb the laissez-faire approach. “We would like to see adequate and enforced regulation of the industry, and for all tow trucks to have both advanced driving skills and first aid training.”
One of the Facebook page administrators said: “Thorin’s vehicle landed 100m back from the collision site, showing that they were going at an extremely high speed. The industry is not regulated and drivers flout the law, drive at high speeds and harass other road-users.
“They are a law unto themselves. We want to see regulation in the industry.”
The Facebook page states that its purpose is: “to draw attention to an industry that is for the most part unregulated.
“We, as the public, seek transparency as to why so many of the drivers in the towing industry are compelled to conduct themselves in a manner that endangers their fellow road-users.”
Algoa Towing, the company whose tow truck allegedly caused the accident, offered condolences to the family, saying: “We at Algoa Towing are all in shock and heartsore over the loss of life and injuries sustained in this horrific accident.”
In response to the uproar on social media, Algoa Towing manager Alwyn Smith said: “Algoa Towing is saddened by the public comments made by some people. A young man’s life was lost and social media is not the place to vent an opinion and anger.
“We suspended our Facebook page in order that the Mallinson family and our staff would not be subjected to this.
“This is a terrible time for the Mallinson family and all involved, and we would ask that people respect that the legal procedures must be followed. We understand that the public are upset, that is expected, but we ask that they do not pass judgment on the driver, without the legal process being followed or having all the facts before them.
“This is the most serious accident that has occurred in the five years that the company has been operating and, as such, we will do our utmost to ensure it does not happen again. Our drivers all sign a code of conduct that they must adhere to; the company has reiterated this code to all drivers since the accident,” Smith said.
He also added that a professional driving permit is required to operate a breakdown vehicle. He reported that the tow truck driver was still in hospital.
Police spokesman Mtati Tana said the Beacon Bay police were investigating a case of culpable homicide. Police request that eye witnesses that can assist the police must contact Warrant Officer Jaques du Toit on (043) 701-9000, 082-829-8940 or 086-001-0111.