A tractor driver who was beaten and killed by the driver of a snow plow near Arnprior during Monday’s storm is remembered as a loving father and hard worker who would do anything for anyone.
Phillip Smith, 33, was hit by the driver of a snowplow while trying to help a driver stuck along the side of Highway 417 just west of Ottawa.
The Ontario Provincial Police said the fatal collision happened just before noon. 12:30 during the White Lake Road crossing, after most of the nearly 50 inches of snow had fallen in the metropolitan area.
On Thursday, about 100 members of Ottawa’s towing community gathered to remind Smith and motorists to slow down and move over after tractors and emergency vehicles.
The group gathered outside Ottawa’s baseball stadium on Coventry Road before traveling in a convoy down Highway 417 to the other end of town at the Canadian Tire Center in a “Ride for Phil.”
“It’s unbelievable, I can not believe all the support for my son,” said Tryna Smith, who attended the trip with her second son Sabastian.
“I did not expect so many people to turn out, but I think they are entitled to the family,” Sabastian said.
Smith’s mother said the family appreciated all the support that described how much it would mean to her son.
“We love you Phillip and we miss you and we will all take care of everyone, including all your children,” Tryna Smith said.
Phillip Smith leaves behind two young children, who were also at the event, and their mother Amanda Duheme.
“There will not be a single day that I will not think of you. I will make sure your children remember you and how much you loved us, I promise you,” Duheme wrote on his Facebook page after Smiths death.
Slow down and move on
Smith worked for the Canadian Towing Service, and members of the towing community who participated in the trip said that even though companies compete for business, they meet when a tragedy occurs.
“We work for different companies, but at the end of the day we have to stay together out here, take care of each other’s backs for this very reason,” said Junior Marc Latreille, who organized the trip.
Latreille, the owner of 613 Wrecked, said he hopes the trip not only pays tribute to Smith but also raises awareness.
“Just take your time, change lanes, slow down, give us a place to work. We want to go home to our families at the end of the day,” Latreille said.
Wayne Harris, who knew Smith from his time as a tow truck operator, said that when society loses a driver, it affects everyone.
“You’re out there helping the people, and you’re putting your life on the line, you do not know if you’re coming home … it just should not have happened,” Harris said.
OPP said the collision investigation is continuing. The Ministry of Labor was contacted and is also investigating the matter.