Son Recalls How Wamsutter Tow Truck Driver Who Died In I-80 Crash 'Taught Me About Being A Man' 

Kirby Lugg died early Monday when an 18-wheeler hit him as he tried to winch a car out of the barrow ditch between Interstate lanes, but he leaves behind a grateful family and a legacy of fatherhood.  

Clair McFarland

April 04, 20234 min read

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Kirby Lugg knew the value of a hard day's work.   

He died at age 45 Monday, from the impact of a speeding semi truck, while winching a car out of a snowy I-80 median gully near Wamsutter with his tow truck.   

A fierce spring blizzard blasted most of Wyoming that morning, including the stretch of Interstate along Wamsutter, the town Lugg had called home for the past decade.  

Countless Close Calls  

Lugg was a tow truck driver for 10 years, his son Jeremy Mitcham told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday.    

He'd get called out into the night and onto the Interstate often.   

"It's extremely hard work," said Mitcham. "Dangerous work, obviously long hours."  

Mitcham said his dad had "countless" close calls before with speeding or errant vehicles, but hadn't suffered a crash during a tow prior to the one that took his life.   

The driver of the truck that hit Lugg, Edgar F. Echeverria, of Texas, died at the scene. Authorities took Lugg to the Memorial Hospital of Carbon County, where he succumbed to his injuries, according to a statement by the Wyoming Highway Patrol.   

Snippets about the tragic scene have reached Mitcham and his wife Hailey in the day and a half since Lugg died.   

"We heard a story," said Mitcham. "The guy he was towing out; his daughter posted (that) Kirby warned the guy to get out of the way. And he was able to get out of the way. He still got hit. But I don't know what would have happened if Kirby hadnt told him to get out of the way."   

The driver of the car, whom Lugg had been helping, went to the hospital for his injuries and is now in stable condition, said Mitcham.   

'Taught Me About Being A Man' 

Mitcham always called Lugg "Dad," though Lugg married Mitcham's mother when the latter was 4 years old.   

The couple would have been married 22 years this year, Mitcham said.   

Mitcham was morose Tuesday over the loss of his father figure and best friend.   

"He taught me the meaning of a hard day's work, and a lot about being a man," said Mitcham. "I could go on for hours about everything he taught me."  

These are the values Mitcham said he wants to pass on to his own young son, Brantley.   

A perennial father figure, Lugg raised his wife's three children but never had any biological children of his own. Before he died Lugg was also raising his 8-year-old grandson, CJ, who is the son of Mitcham's sister.  

Mitcham said Lugg treated the boy "as his own."

The 8-year-old boy is taking the news of Lugg's death better than expected, said Mitcham, adding that he suspects its harder for the boy to grasp the gravity of the loss at that age.   

A Wrench, A Laugh  

Mitcham said he was having a hard time articulating his memories in tragedy's aftermath.   

But what he could recall denoted a fullness of character not easy to forget.   

"He was a prankster and a jokester and loved to make people laugh," said Mitcham of his dad. "People that didn't know him would leave a conversation with him feeling like they were lifelong friends." 

Lugg taught Mitcham everything he knows about working on cars, he said. On his time off, Lugg would work on vehicles of friends and family members "for practically free," Mitcham recalled.   

The family moved to Wyoming from Idaho about 10 years ago, said Mitcham. They settled in Wamsutter, though Mitcham and his wife have lived in Rawlins for the past five years.   

Still, he said, The families have remained close.   

"(He was an) incredible person," Mitcham said. "He took care of everybody. Loved helping people." 

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter