Mother of tow truck driver killed on side of road hopes new billboard will save a life

There's a new billboard located off State Road 408 near John Young Parkway in Orange County. A man seen on the billboard was a tow truck driver who died about three miles away after a driver failed to move over last year. Now his mother is warning drivers to be careful and move over.

"Someone wasn’t paying attention and came by and struck him," said Brooke Lawrence as she described the death of her son, 24-year-old Austin Gayne.

Gayne stopped to tow a disabled truck in February 2021, along the 408, when a different driver plowed into him, despite all his safety gear. 

"Was loading a tow truck in daylight hours and all reflective clothing," Lawrence said. "It hit us in our hearts."

Gayne was a tow truck driver for Johnson's Wrecker Service in Orlando. Eric Lucas said he was in disbelief when he found out what happened.  "Not only did we always push for it, but then reality set in with the rule, it hit home with us," said Lucas of the "Move Over Law," established in 2002.

Lawrence said too many people don’t realize it’s a law, that’s why she created this billboard. "To bring awareness to drivers that they need to slow down and move over for flashing lights." Either move over or reduce speed by 20 miles per hour.

"It is something we deal with on a daily basis. Police officers, anybody broke on the side of the road," Lucas said.

It could cost a driver at least $120 citation. 

"They don’t know they could receive a citation. They don’t know a first responder is struck and killed every four days," Lawrence added.

Lawrence hopes this billboard helps save a life, especially this Memorial Day weekend. She said her son was the father of two young boys. 

"It's been rough. He has two very small children. One turned one while he was in the hospital, and the other one was two, so it’s been hard."

Lawrence also put up another billboard on Interstate 40 in North Carolina. Next month, she plans to have a memorial to remember Austin and other fallen first responders for Father's Day promoting the Move Over Law.