|Birth: ||Aug. 13, 1963|
|Death: ||Aug. 1, 2008|
"Co-workers remember tow truck crash victims
by Jim Walsh - Aug. 4, 2008 01:58 PM
The Arizona Republic
Jesse S. Gault of Gilbert died doing something he loved, helping other people. Jean Bunch was a nurse who devoted her career to helping children.
Gault, 44, a U.S. Navy veteran and a longtime tow truck driver, and Jean Bunch, 56, a nurse at Phoenix Children's Hospital, died Friday in a tragic collision on the Red Mountain Freeway in Mesa.
Gault had just finished changing Bunch's tire at about 10 a.m. when a truck driver, Albert J. Lorona, 31, of Yuma, plowed into the back of Gault's tow truck in the emergency lane. The force of the collision pushed the tow truck forward, running over Gault and Bunch as it slammed into Bunch's sport utility vehicle, according to Sgt. Harold Sanders, a state Department of Public Safety spokesman.
Tow truck drivers are planning to memorialize Gault, a fallen brother, with a procession of tow trucks through the southeast Valley on Thursday night. Gault's casket will be loaded aboard a tow truck and taken to a funeral home for services, said Bryan Vivian, his boss at Thompson's Auto Repair and Towing in Mesa.
"A perfect tow driver has to be willing to help. It was definitely in Jesse's blood,'' Vivian said. "I've had a couple of callers who called in to say how pleasant he was in providing service to them.''
Bunch has been a registered nurse at Phoenix Children's Hospital since 2002. She was known for her sense of humor and her high level of organization, said Debra Stevens, a hospital spokeswoman.
"We was very well-liked and universally respected at the hospital,'' Stevens said. "She was a lot of fun to be around. She would make jokes about herself.''
Bunch started as a clinical emergency department nurse. She was reassigned in February to help the hospital move to computerized patient treatment records.
Gault was a 20-year Navy veteran and his ashes will be spread at sea by the Navy as a tribute, Vivian said. Gault was the father of four children.
"That's what he loved in life. He loved his kids and he loved his work,'' Vivian said. "We were happy to get him. We will definitely miss him.''
Gault had finished changing Bunch's tire. He had placed the damaged tire on the rear of Bunch's Isuzu Trooper and his tools were back on his truck, Vivian said. The two victims would have left the emergency lane momentarily.
Sanders said police have been unable to interview Lorona because of his condition and may never know exactly why he struck the back of Gault's tow truck in the westbound lanes near Gilbert Road because of short-term memory loss, a frequent problem for trauma victims.
After the tow truck hit the the victims and the SUV, it veered across three lanes of traffic and hit the cable median barriers, preventing the truck from hitting the eastbound lanes. Gault and Bunch were pronounced dead at the scene.
"A sizable percentage of these collisions are not people under the influence,'' Sanders said. "Why don't they see vehicles in the emergency lane? Why are they inattentive?''
A memorial fund for Gault has been established at Wells Fargo bank. Gault's viewing is at 5 p.m. on Wednesday at Falconer Funeral Home, 251 W. Juniper Ave., Gilbert. Services are at 5 p.m. on Thursday at the same location, with the procession to follow".
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