Jennifer Phillips, WHNS, Reporting, Courtesy CNN
GREENVILLE, South Carolina — A grieving mother said she lost her son in a fatal crash – and she had to pay for the cleanup.
The man who was forced to bill the victim’s mother said he’s hurt and did nothing wrong.
As the owner of Greenville Auto Towing, when Tracy Spain gets a call, he gets into his truck and heads to the accident scene.
But Spain said he will never forget a deadly wreck on White Horse Road in June 2011.
“Usually there might be a bumper cover laying in the road, a piece of a headlight and a little glass,” said Spain.
But Spain said the impact from the 2011 collision caused debris to fly everywhere, several hundred yards away, and the cleanup took hours.
“It threw stuff all the way on the upper side of cars all the way down to the Dallas Tax Service,” said Spain.
Anna Gonzalez, an illegal immigrant, was driving drunk when she hit and killed Justin Walker, who was from Alabama.
Investigators said Gonzalez crossed the center line and hit Walker’s car head-on along White Horse Road. They said he had to be cut out of the wreckage, but died from his injuries minutes before Spain was called to the scene.
Last week in court, Walker’s mother, Loretta Robinson, told a judge how much she missed her son.
“It’s changed our whole entire fabric in our family,” said Robinson. “If she served 100 years, he would not be back. I think for her I feel sorry because she claims that she doesn’t remember much, and I wouldn’t want to either.”
In court, she addressed Gonzalez and talked about her heartache. She also brought up the $50 in cleanup fees she was billed after the crash.
“I had to pay to have the vehicle removed and the street with Justin’s blood on the ground,” said Robinson.
Spain said when he heard the statement he couldn’t believe it.
“I was absolutely stunned,” said Spain.
He said he billed Robinson, but gave her a discount. He said an average cleanup could cost $89 an hour. He said unfortunately, neither Robinson’s son nor Gonzalez had insurance.
“You couldn’t help but to feel sorry for them. I saw what they were all going through,” said Spain.
Spain said he used discretion on the bill, which is a policy backed by the Towing and Recovery Association of South Carolina. He said the fee was for debris cleanup and not to wash the blood off the ground, as Robinson stated.
He said he’s hurt by Robinson’s claim and is willing to give her $50 back.
As for Gonzalez, she pleaded guilty in a Greenville County courtroom and was sentenced her to 17 years in prison.