Jeff Rackley died as he lived: Helping others
Posted December 2, 2014
Rocky Mount, N.C. — The owner of Jeff’s Wrecker Services in Rocky Mount died Monday evening while assisting a stranded motorist along Interstate 95 in Wilson, the North Carolina State Highway Patrol said.
"He was just a saint," Wendy Rackley said of her husband, Jeffery Allen Rackley, 44.
"I know that he is in heaven because Jeff was a good man."
Family, friends and loyal customers mourned at Rackley's home Tuesday night, but they said they were not surprised that he was helping someone else when his time came.
According to the state Highway Patrol, Jeff Rackley was on the should of I-95 just south of Interstate 795, had his tow truck’s bed lowered and was loading a disabled vehicle when a vehicle driven by Paul Joseph Dattari, 67, moved from the left lane to the shoulder, struck the disabled vehicle and pushed it onto the truck and into Rackley.
It was work that he loved, Wendy Rackley said.
"There's a story about him that he hooked up his first car at four years old," she said. "He knew more about the wrecker business than, I think, anybody."
That knowledge, paired with commitment and kindness earned Jeff Rackley respect from customers as well. Helen Knight remembered a man who would adjust his prices based on what she could pay.
"He would normally charge $60 or $80 to tow, but he would charge me $40 because I didn't have enough money at the time," she said. "I told him my situation. I'm a single parent."
Stepdaughter Brooke Joyner said, "He was a man, a father, a husband that he didn't have to be. He became one of my best friends."
The wreck happened just after 4 p.m. and closed the southbound lanes of the highway just past Interstate 795 for about two hours.
Dattari, of 231 Walden Green Drive in Raeford, was treated for minor injuries and released from Wilson Medical Center. He was then taken to the Wilson County jail, where he was charged with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle, felony failure to move over and careless and reckless driving. Dattari received a $5,000 bond.