BILLINGS - It’s been two years since tow truck drivers Nick Visser and Casey Allen were killed along I-90 near Columbus while responding to a crash.
Their employer, Hanser’s of Billings, held a memorial Tuesday honoring the men’s lives and hoping to raise awareness about a new Montana law protecting tow truck drivers on the job.
An emotional moment of silence followed a barrage of horns at noon at Hanser's, as family, community members, and law enforcement officers honored the lives of Visser and Allen.
“They were quiet and gentle-spirited and to see this outpouring for them, it’s humbling,” said Visser’s mother, Peggy Mathiason.
On Oct. 25, 2020, a vehicle struck the two men as they were working on the shoulder of I-90 near Columbus.
“We miss him every day. Every single day.” Mathiason said.
At the memorial, Hanser’s and the Montana Tow Truck Association announced plans for a permanent tribute to the two men outside a brand new I-90 rest stop in Three Forks.
“We wanted that to be more than just something that had the names of the fallen towers. We wanted to educate people,” said Spence Hanser, an employee whose father owns the business.
Hanser’s has made that their mission ever since the fatal accident, also using events like this as an opportunity to educate people about Montana’s Move Over Law. Last year, Montana lawmakers voted to add protections for tow drivers to the law and stiffen penalties for violators.
“Good things have come from this, sadly. It cost two very beautiful people their lives. But our move over law was one of the big, big things that came out,” said Hanser.
Jerry Prete is the vice president of the nonprofit Move Over Montana.
“Part of our mission is to provide public education and also education to responders,” Prete said.
The organization stemmed from a Facebook page and was officially formed after the tragedy. It provides safety equipment to volunteers on the road as well as support to families who’ve lost loved ones while being struck on the road.
“Through the work with the two families of Casey and Nick, we held about 14 months a contest and designed a 'Slow down, move over' license plate,” said Prete.
Move Over Montana is looking for donations for the license-plate campaign. The money from these donations supports the organization’s programs. You can donate at Move Over Montana | Plains MT | Facebook.
The Montana Tow Truck Association is also raising money for the memorial in Three Forks. You can donate at any Glacier Bank or its affiliates, including Western Security Bank in Billings, or send money to Montana Tow Truck Association, PO Box 363, Three Forks, MT 59752.