A tow-truck driver was killed Wednesday morning after being dragged more than a mile by a sport-utility vehicle he was attempting to tow from an apartment complex in east Colorado Springs, police said.
Allen Rose, 35, a married father of two who worked for J & J Towing, was pronounced dead at Memorial Hospital Central about 11:30 a.m., a half-hour after witnesses called police.
John Stellabotte, the owner of J & J Towing, said police told him his driver was trying to tow an illegally parked vehicle at the Hill Park Apartments at 360 N. Murray Blvd. when someone jumped inside and took off.
Police, who have not officially identified the victim, say they are interviewing the SUV driver to determine if the driver knew the man was being dragged. They declined to provide further details about the driver, except to say that no charges had been filed as of Wednesday night.
John Stellabotte called Rose his best friend — the two were business partners for two years as co-owners of J & J Towing. Rose had come back a month and a half ago after taking a break from the business.
“It’s definitely a tragic loss,” Stellabotte said.
Rose was an Iraq War veteran who served multiple tours, Stellabotte said.
Stellabotte was teaching Rose how to bowl and they had booked a three-day trip to Reno in mid-March for a bowling tournament.
“He had his whole life still ahead of him,” Stellabotte said.
According to Sgt. Steve Noblitt, a cable that tethered the sport-utility vehicle to the tow truck snapped and somehow ensnared the man.
Witnesses said at least one of the man’s legs was caught by the tether, and that he was screaming as he was dragged.
He was found at Babcock Road and Platte Avenue, just west of Powers Boulevard and 1.2 miles from the scene of the tow-job-gone-bad, police said. Blood streaked long stretches of Platte Avenue, and boots, a tattered jacket, a ball cap, wallet and other articles were scattered along the road.
“A crime scene this size stretches our resources thin,” Noblitt said.
After the dragging victim came loose, the driver of the sport-utility vehicle turned around in the median on Platte and reversed direction, Noblitt said.
The vehicle — a black GMC — was stopped at Bridger Place and Bridger Drive.
A homeowner in the area said he went outside and saw officers interviewing a female who was apparently in the SUV. It’s unclear whether that person was the driver.
Streets in the area were closed through the evening rush hour.
Two witnesses outside Family Liquor in the 400 block of Murray Boulevard saw the man being dragged behind the vehicle. His leg appeared to be caught in a chain, and he was “screaming and yelling — I felt his pain,” one witness said.
One of them ran after the vehicle in an unsuccessful attempt to stop it. The vehicle turned right and disappeared down a frontage road that runs south of Platte Avenue, still dragging the man, he said.
Dominique Morneau, 15, said she was walking out of the Walgreen’s at Platte Avenue and Murray Boulevard with her grandmother when she saw the man being dragged about 10 to 15 feet behind the truck.
“Our condolences go straight out to the family and the loved one,” Morneau said.