S.W. ATLANTA -- Spencer Pass, 45, was on the job less than three years when he became the first H.E.R.O. worker killed while on duty.
"He loved his job," said co-worker Brian Groover. "Everything always had to be in the right place. Every hair on top of his head had to be in the right place."
The Georgia State Patrol said Pass was helping a stranded motorist on in the emergency lane of I-85 near Metropolitan Parkway in S.W. Atlanta Monday morning, when he was struck by a passing vehicle that left the roadway. Investigators say a utility truck towing a flatbed trailer with heavy equipment struck Pass's Highway Emergency Response Operator vehicle before striking the 45-year-old.
"He failed to maintain his lane of travel," said Sgt. Jerome Bowman of the State Patrol said of the driver who struck Pass.
The State Patrol's Gordy Wright said charges are pending further investigation. Wright identified the driver under investigation as Kirk A. Sherwood. Sherwood was transported to Grady Hospital after the collision.
Markings on the side of the truck that hit Pass indicate that it belonged to ComTran, a telecommunications company based in Gwinnett County. A woman answering the phone at ComTran said that the company was "saddened by what happened," but would have no further comment until the owner learned more about the collision.
Georgia Department of Transportation spokesman David Spear says ComTran does contract work for the D.O.T., assisting with overhead highway signs and closed circuit television.
The D.O.T. also operates the H.E.R.O. unit, which started in 1995.
The driver of the stranded vehicle Spencer Pass was assisting jumped over a guardrail to safety. The State Patrol has identified him as James T. Davis.
While H.E.R.O. workers have been injured on the job before, co-workers of Spencer Pass are dealing with the unit's first death.
"He never had a bad day," said co-worker Roosevelt Smith. "He was the kind of person you would want out there serving the citizens of Georgia."
"I don't think it can be stressed enough how great of an individual that he was," said Jason Josey, a friend and co-worker.
Josey said Spencer Pass never had a bad thing to say to anyone. "I know that people say that about people from time to time, but in this particular case it's one hundred percent true," he said. "This was a unique individual in a special way."