Tow truck drivers to honor Grass Valley man who died in Hwy 20 wreck |

Tow truck drivers to honor Grass Valley man who died in Hwy 20 wreck

Two died in a Jan. 31 collision between a tow truck and a fuel tanker on Highway 20 that caused an explosion and sent flames about 40 feet in the air.
Elias Funez/ |

Described by family members as a lighthearted, friendly person who was always willing to lend a hand, John Cox, who died last week in a collision on Highway 20, will be remembered Friday by his fellow tow truck drivers.

Kent Kilroy, owner of Kilroy’s Towing Service, said he expects about 50 trucks from tow companies in Nevada County and surrounding areas to join in a procession through Nevada City, Grass Valley and Penn Valley Friday morning beginning at 10 a.m.

Kilroy, who was Cox’s employer at the time of the Jan. 31 fatal crash, said the 61-year-old Grass Valley resident was like family.

“He was here five years and he was a very, very good employee,” Kilroy said.

“He was a real stand-up guy. He would help you whenever he could.”— Paula Cox

Paula Cox, John’s high school sweetheart and wife of nearly 30 years, described her late husband as a storyteller with a great sense of humor.

John was known by friends as empathetic and caring, Paula said.

“He was a real stand-up guy,” she said. “He would help you whenever he could.”

Towing, she said, was a passion of Cox’s because it was his way of helping people who were in troublesome situations.

“He did what he loved,” she said.

John’s son, Roy Cox, said his dad was caring toward his three sons. John shared his passion for mechanics with Roy. The two fixed up old cars together, Roy said.

Two people died Jan. 31 when the Kilroy’s Towing Service truck Cox was driving collided with a fuel tanker around 10:10 a.m. on Highway 20, near Bowman Lake Road.

John Drew, 49, of Reno, Nevada, was identified by Placer County authorities on Monday as the driver of the fuel tanker, who also died in the crash. CHP hasn’t officially identified John Cox, but friends and family confirmed it.

The collision caused an explosion that sent flames about 40 feet into the air and closed Highway 20 for over a day.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Pera, email or call 530-477-4231.

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