ORLANDO, Fla. – A parade of tow trucks rolled down West Underwood Street in Orlando Friday evening.
The long procession of wreckers, led by Johnson’s Wrecker and Service, was in honor of 24-year-old Austin Gayne, who died from injuries he sustained in a crash on Feb. 1.
According to Orlando police, a red 1996 Buick Century was traveling on the inside of west bound State Road 408 when the car left the road, crashed through emergency vehicles that blocked the Rosalind Avenue exit and struck Gayne and a mechanic who were in the process of towing a dump truck.
Gayne and the mechanic were both sent to the hospital with serious injuries. The driver of the Buick suffered minor injuries and was also transported to a hospital.
Michael Capps, who worked at Johnson’s Wrecker and Services with Gayne, said when he heard about the crash it was hard to comprehend.
“This kid was 24 years old, he didn’t deserve this. He has three kids, he was my best friend,” Capps said.
Orlando Health Orlando Regional Medical Center is where Gayne spent several weeks battling for his life after the crash and undergoing various treatments.
“I’m the one who called his sister and I told his sister what happened. It’s the worst feeling ever is to just say, ‘Your brother just got hit by a car and he is critical,’” Capps said.
Outside of the hospital a sea of tow truck drivers, family and friends wearing green Austin Strong T-shirts gathered for a tribute his mother requested through social media. Joey Aguayo used to work with Gayne and said he is struggling to accept what happened.
“It’s surreal to me because that day he got hit, I was on the phone with him,” Aguayo said.
The group was forced to bid farewell to the father of three whose injuries proved to be fatal.
“He is watching right now, he is ear to ear,” Capps said.
Orlando police are investigating the crash. Gayne’s family and friends said they anticipate charges will be upgraded since Gayne has died. Ultimately, they said they hope the crash serves as a reminder to drivers to move over when you see a wrecker.