San Diego

Suspected Drunk Driver in Fatal Tierrasanta Crash Had Suspended License: DMV

Fred Griffith, 55, an employee of Road One San Diego, had gotten out of his truck to tow a disabled garbage truck when he was hit by a car

The suspected drunk driver involved in a crash that took the life of a tow truck driver in Tierrasanta Thursday evening had a suspended license, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Fred Griffith, 55, an employee of Road One San Diego, had gotten out of his truck to tow a disabled garbage truck on the side of the road on the State Route 52 near Mast Boulevard just after 5 p.m.

California Highway Patrol (CHP) officials told NBC 7, that's when the driver of another vehicle, identified to be 48-year-old Michael Gilbert Gray, struck Griffith.

Officers said Gray continued driving on the SR-52 for nearly a mile until an off-duty officer, who had witnessed the crash, stopped him.

According to CHP, Griffith was not in any traffic lanes on the freeway when he was hit.

"He was where he should have been, he wasn't doing anything, he wasn't sticking out in the lane, this individual came out onto the shoulder and struck him," said Jake Sanchez, CHP Public Informations Officer.

NBC 7 spoke to some of Griffith's co-workers who said he had a big heart and a big laugh. He had worked for Road One for 15 years.

"Just a great, great man has been taken away and it's such a shame," said Randall Resch, a friend of Griffith's. "He always had a smile, always there to help."

The two taught safety classes together to tow truck drivers at Road One Towing. Resch told NBC 7 Griffith always made safety the number one priority while on the job.

"All the red lights, sirens, flares, cones, vests of towers; all the people on scene can't control the actions of an intoxicated driver," Resch added.

Resch told NBC 7 he hopes this unnecessary tragedy is a firm wake-up call for all drivers to share the road.

Now, a father has been taken from his three sons,and friends just like Resch are dealing with the heartbreaking aftermath of losing a loved one.

"Everything out there, these towers have is the passion because they're out there to serve, and to take somebody away like Fred, it's unfathomable to me. I just can't believe this has happened and it's going to take a long time to overcome," he said.

Gray was not injured in the crash.

He arrested and booked into San Diego County Jail on suspicion of DUI causing injury or death, fleeing the scene of a crash and vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

Sanchez added that drivers need to be more aware on the road, especially for workers.

"If people see people on the side of the road working, whether it be highway patrol, Caltrans, tow drivers, fire department, whoever, you need to pass with due regard and give these individuals some space because it's so dangerous," he said.

Gray had been driving with a suspended license at the time of the crash, according to DMV.

His license was suspended on Jan. 10, 2013 and again in the same year on Jan. 17. DMV said it was due to driving with an excessive blood alcohol level.

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