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Fiancé of beloved metro Atlanta tow truck driver killed while working speaks out ahead of funeral

Toby Bowden was killed on the job along I-85 in Coweta County on March 15. Bowden’s funeral is at Unity Baptist Church on Thursday at 1 p.m. in Newnan.

NEWNAN, Ga. — Toby Bowden was set to be married to Misty Wright on September 17, 2023. However, the two, who had been dating for the last 12 years will never get the chance to say, “I do.”

"There’s no sense in it, this could have all been avoided,” said Misty Wright. 

Bowden, 49, who worked for Parkers Towing in Newnan was dispatched out to a crash on I-85 northbound near the Highway 29 exit a short time before 7 a.m. on March 15. 

As he was standing in the emergency lane helping in the clean-up of the crash, troopers saw a driver come up on the crash site at a high rate of speed – before losing control of his car as he swerved to miss firetrucks, who were helping block lanes for first responders. 

“(He) swerved, lost control of his car, hit the back of the fire truck, and then hit, clipped a GSP trooper who was standing next to Toby; Toby was walking up to assess the accident and he clipped her then hit Toby from behind, he did not see it,” explained Wright. 

Bowden died instantly. 

“He left for work like all of us do, and he won’t ever walk back through the door again,” said Wright. 

Hanging over the interstate, just a few hundred feet away from where Bowden was hit and killed, was a black and white DOT sign stating the Georgia law that’s supposed to help prevent tragedies like this one. 

“There was a big move over sign right in front of where he hit him on the interstate,” said Wright. 

In Georgia, there is a Move over Law. It requires drivers to move over one lane when possible if an emergency vehicle with flashing lights is parked on the shoulder of the highway. And if traffic is too heavy to move over safely, the law requires drivers to slow down below the posted speed limit instead and to be prepared to stop.

Wright recalled something rare that happened before Bowden got the call to head the crash site on I-85. 

“We sat here and actually had coffee together, never had done that before,” explained Wright. 

She said the two talked for a bit, laughed, checked their phones and then it was off to work for Bowden. 

“He said well I got to go, he kissed me bye and said goodbye,” said Wright.

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It wouldn’t be long until Wright said the owner of the wrecker company he worked for called to let her know he’d been in an accident. It was soon after that call, she found out Bowden didn’t make it. 

“He left for work like all of us do, and he won’t ever walk back through the door again,” said Wright. 

Wright said Bowden loved his job. She said she has some peace in knowing he died doing what he loved. While she said the anger has passed she’s not ready to forgive the driver accused of killing him. 

“I’m not at that point because 'Why are you drinking and driving at 6:45 in the morning? And why are you not paying attention,'” explained Wright. 

Troopers arrested 31-year-old Christopher Thornton. He’s charged with the following:

  • First-degree vehicular homicide
  • Move over law violation
  • Reckless driving
  • Driving under the influence
  • Failure to maintain lane
  • Too fast for conditions      

Bowden’s funeral services will be held at Unity Baptist Church on Thursday, March 23 at 1 p.m. The family will receive friends at 11 a.m. with Rev. TJ Boyd officiating. Interment will follow at Oak Hill Cemetery.

An online fundraiser has been established to help Wright following Bowden’s sudden loss. The two were raising her twins and hadn’t planned for any such tragedy before the two tied the knot. 

Bowden served as a Marine for four years before getting out in the late 90s and beginning his career as a tow truck driver in metro Atlanta with Southern Towing of Atlanta. He was also involved in the Veterans Court and mentored veterans who were struggling.

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