Sarah Bruce
Public Relations / Member Engagement
Phone: 604-432-7987

ARA Contributes to Fallen Tower’s Memorial

“Memory In Tow” by Cranbrook artist Paul Reimer. Commissioned by the 2019 Stanley Humphries graduating class in memory of Wayne Kernachan.

Last November, Wayne Kernachan, a tower from Castlegar, was struck and killed by a passing vehicle while assisting a motorist at an accident scene. The tragedy shook the community and as a result, the graduating class of Stanley Humphries Secondary School fundraised for a memorial sculpture.

“Wayne Kernachan was quite well-known,” said Amy Bell, parent and grad executive of communications. “Our town is not very big, so a tow truck driver and local business owner is very well known in our community. And his son, Keegan—who the business, Keegz Towing, was named after—was a graduate of the high school not too long ago.”

“When Wayne passed away, our community was really surprised by the response from tow truck drivers who came for a convoy in his memory,” Amy said, explaining how 50 to 60 trucks followed the funeral procession. “It really struck the grads as being a community or culture that they had no idea was there—a brotherhood of tow truck drivers. I think it caused them to really think about how tow truck drivers are probably the unsung, unseen heroes at accidents whereas other first responders are quite visible. Everyone sees the fire truck. Everyone sees the ambulance. Everybody sees the RCMP. But often tow truck drivers are the first ones on the scene and the last ones to leave. They put themselves in just as much harm’s way, as sadly Wayne’s passing proved.”

Realizing how often tow truck drivers are taken for granted, the grad class and their parents wanted to find a way to honour Wayne. Every year, Castlegar has a sculpture walk where local artists can submit artwork to be on display in the community. The grad class decided to contribute a sculpture in his memory.

They approached a few different artists who all recommended Paul Reimer, a blacksmith artist. At first, they thought to just do a small piece, such as a tow hitch, but Paul had a bigger vision.

“He was really excited and moved by the story,” Amy said. “The more we talked, the more he understood why the grads were wanting something like this. He said, ‘I think this man deserves something a little bit more than a one-foot by one-foot hitch. His impact was bigger than that, so let’s come up with something bigger.’”

Paul ended up creating a wonderful tow truck sculpture with a bench bed designed to look like the deck of one of Keegz Towing’s trucks.

Through fundraising, the grad class contributed $2000 up front and set up a GoFundMe page to raise the rest. “With the help of family members, everybody in the community joining together, and of course, the ARA’s very generous [donation], we were able to commission the bench for the sculpture walk.”

“It’ll have a lasting impact, which is the whole heart behind the grad legacy project, to leave something of significance to the community in your graduating year.”

The ARA would like to extend a special thank you to contributing members for their donations: Jack’s Towing Ltd., Totem Towing, Commercial Truck Equipment, Roadway Towing Ltd., Rusty’s Auto Towing Ltd., Mario’s Towing Ltd, and Ben’s Towing & Auto Wrecking Ltd.