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Longview tow operator Jerry Marston likes to cite a dire-sounding statistic.

He says about 72 percent of Washington drivers do not know about the state’s “slow down, move over” laws, which come into play when motorists approach the scene of an accident or some kind of emergency.

That’s why Marston, owner of Christian Brothers Towing, is participating in the American Spirit Ride and will host one of 160 ceremonies nationwide honoring fallen first responders. It will take place at 10 a.m. Thursday at Riverside Park in Lexington.

The Spirit Ride is touted by its organizers as a “Traveling Memorial Day.” It’s central focus is a ceremonial steel casket that has been relayed throughout the nation from tow trick to tow truck. It’s journey began in June last year.

Before year’s end it will have passed hands in 300 cities with truck processions totaling over 10,000 trucks from towing, fire, police and EMS agencies, according to the effort’s website.

The eight-foot long casket is painted with scenes of first responders working on the roadways, depicting the risks they face.

Some time Saturday afternoon (today), Martston will pick up the casket at Exit 52 (Barnes Drive) north of Castle Rock, where it will arrive from a ceremony earlier in the day in Cle Elum, Wash.

A procession of law enforcement vehicles will follow Marston as he brings the casket back to his tow business at 425 14th Ave. Then he’ll keep it there until the ceremony at Lexington on Thursday.

Washington’s “move over” law requires vehicles approaching a work or emergency zone to proceed with caution and slow down. If two lanes are going in the same direction, drivers should move completely over into the left lane if it is safe. Violators face $214 mandatory fines.

The Washington State Patrol says 86 of its patrol cars were hit on Washington roads in the past three years, injuring 32 troopers.

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Contact City Editor Andre Stepankowsky at 360-577-2520.

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