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Fallen wrecker driver's family continues to advocate for change a year later

Sunday marked one year since a Red Beard's Towing wrecker driver was struck and killed by a driver who was under the influence, and his family is doing everything they can to push for change.

On Nov. 26, 2022, John Alic Mills, 31, was loading a disabled Tesla onto his wrecker on the shoulder of U.S. Highway 69 when Robert Marshall struck him with his 2006 Cadillac DTS.

“The Cadillac departed the roadway to the right, entered the shoulder, and impacted the Tesla. The Cadillac then impacted John Mills and the right-side tires began driving up the ramp of the rollback, causing the Cadillac to roll onto its top,” an affidavit stated.

Marshall, 77, was transported to St. Francis hospital in Muskogee where his blood was drawn. On April 12, a report from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation indicated that Marshall’s blood alcohol level exceeded the legal limit.

According to the information report, Marshall was under the influence of alcohol and morphine at the time of the crash. District 27 District Attorney Jack Thorp charged Marshall with first-degree manslaughter on Aug. 21.

On Satruday, Nov. 25, John Mills' friends and family, including his 2-year-old son, gathered at his crash site to say a prayer and display a banner that reminds drivers to Slow Down, Move Over.

"Basically, the cross is there but it can be hard to see. It is a reminder for his friends and family to know where he breathed his last [breath]," Chelsea Mills said. "The banner is there to remind everyone else. A lot of people saw the news stories, Facebook posts and newspaper articles that mentioned his name, but have never seen his face. The message is a whole lot stronger when there is a face to a name and a family grieving beside it."

Oklahoma legislature passed House Bill 2684 in April which establishes fines for drivers who endanger emergency responders by not slowing down or moving over for stopped emergency vehicles. A driver could be fined $1,000 for a first offense and $2,500 for a second offense. A driver could be fined $5,000 if an emergency worker is struck and injured and up to $10,000 if an emergency worker is killed.

"Too often, our police officers, firefighters, paramedics, tow truck operators and other responders are put in harm's way while responding to emergencies on Oklahoma's roadways," OK Sen. Blake Stephens, R-Tahlequah, said in a press release. "We want to ensure they can do their jobs safely, and by drivers slowing down and being more attentive, we hope to see less accidents, injuries and deaths of our selfless first responders."

The Bernardo-Mills Law, which was named after John Mills and wrecker driver Bernardo Martinez who was killed in 2020, went into effect Nov. 1. Rep. Neil Hays, R-Checotah, was the House principal author of the bill while Stephens was the Senate author.

Chelsea Mills has been actively pushing for change since her husband's death and is currently working on website that would list fallen operators. She and her son traveled to the International Towing & Recovery Museum in Chattanooga, TN in September when John Mills was added to the "Wall of the Fallen."

"I am working on a website that will list all of these fallen operators that will be connected to a QR code that can be made in to a sticker for cars to help bring awareness to our tow operators and the dangers they face on the road, as well as put faces to names in hopes that people will see they are all human beings with families," Chelsea Mills said.

Her goal is to have the website up and running by the new year.

Marshall pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter charge and he is slated to appear in court Tuesday, Nov. 28.


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