The Spirit Ride, a unique journey that began in 2017 to promote public awareness of Move Over laws, will make its way to Williams on Thursday, Aug. 9.
The event has been described as a somber reminder of the police, fire fighters, emergency medical technicians, road and utility workers, and tow truck operators who have been killed on America’s highways.
The ceremonial Spirit casket, which has passed hands in over 30 cities from tow truck to tow truck, will stop in Williams for a 30-minute ceremony at the corner of D and Eighth Street, in Williams, said Joel Sanders, of Sanders Heavy Towing, who picks up the relay.
The ceremony will begin at 10 AM.
The Spirit Ride has been described as a “Traveling Memorial Day,” and has zigzagged across the country from North Carolina to California. The event is a reminder that there is a Move Over law in each state of the Union, designed to protect first responders, road workers and tow truck drivers by requiring motorists to move over and change lanes, when possible, to give safe clearance to law enforcement officers, firefighters, ambulances, utility workers, and in some cases, tow-truck drivers, organizers said.
According to the National Safety Commission, however, about 71 percent of Americans are unaware that such a law exists in their state.
“Most people haven’t heard of the Move Over law,” said Richard Selover, of Selover’s Towing in Colusa. “In California, it’s known as the Move Over, Slow Down law, which has been around since 2010. It was written to require motorists to move over whenever they see a Caltrans vehicle flashing warning lights.”
Selover said that Thursday’s Spirit Ride event is important to him, because it is a great reminder of the danger all first responders, including Caltrans workers, utility workers, and tow truck operators, face each time they stop to perform their jobs along the nation’s roadways and freeways.
On average, one tow truck driver is killed every six days, one law enforcement officer is killed every month, and five firefighters die annually after being struck by passing vehicles while they are performing emergency services on the roadways, according to the National Safety Commission.
Sanders and Selover both encourage members of the public, city, and county officials to attend the ceremony, which will pay tribute to the fallen first responders killed while performing their duties.
The focal point of the ceremony is the Spirit casket, custom built to eight feet, and painted by artist Cecil Burrowes. The artwork features scenes of first responders working on the roadways, and depicts the risks they take.
The color scheme of the casket represents patriotism and tragedy, organizers said.
The ceremony will include a blessing recited by all present, and the singing of “Bless the Spirit Riders” the original anthem for the event, composed by songwriter Mike Corbin, and other songs.
A procession of trucks follows the casket, which carries the message, Slow Down, Move Over.