I-80 hit-and-run victim was admired, elite bowler

Highway Patrol continues to look for driver of vehicle that killed Dave Robinson Jr.
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - Kind-hearted, an elite bowler and a friend to many, Interstate 80 hit-and-run victim David Robinson Jr. was remembered Wednesday as someone whose life ended too soon. Robinson, 30, was outside of a tow truck parked on the side of Interstate 80 near Auburn on Tuesday afternoon when he was struck by a vehicle and killed. The driver of the vehicle, which didn’t stop, is being sought by the California Highway Patrol. For friends of the victim – a Citrus Heights resident and employee of Golden State Towing of Sacramento – the death of Robinson was hitting hard. The loss was particularly hard on the area’s bowling community. Robinson, an elite bowler who had bowled professionally, participated in several leagues and was president of a Thursday league at Fireside Lanes in Citrus Heights. Debbie Haggerty, a bowling instructor, said Wednesday was a sad day for many people. “He touched so many lives.” Haggerty said. “And he was just always a nice kid – always respectful and a great role model for the other kids.” The California Highway Patrol was trying to piece together the events surrounding Robinson’s death. He was struck just outside the driver’s side door as he stood in the slow lane of westbound traffic, just west of the Ophir Road off ramp. The Highway Patrol had not determined the reason for the stop on a narrow shoulder that forced the tow-truck to park partway into the slow lane, Officer David Martinez said. Under the Move Over Law, drivers are required to change lanes or slow down to a safe speed when emergency vehicles are parked at the side of a road. The law includes tow trucks as safety vehicles. One possibility is that Robinson had stopped to help a motorist, who had already driven off, Martinez said. Another could be that he stopped to secure loose equipment. Haggerty has her own theory. “I wonder if he had stopped to pick up debris to make the road safer,” Haggerty said. “That’s the kind of guy he was. He didn’t want anybody to be hurt.” Gary Hulsenberg, who owns the pro shop at Fireside Lanes, described Robinson as “about the best in the area” when it came to bowling. Robinson had chatted earlier this month with him about turning pro again, Hulsenberg said. “Most importantly, he was just about the nicest person you could meet and his family’s wonderful too,” Hulsenberg said. “Anything the family wants, we’ll try to do anything we can.” Rick Poppert Sr., a longtime official and former racer at All American Speedway in Roseville, said he knew Robinson “since he was in diapers.” “He’s just a real happy-go-lucky guy, just an easygoing guy,” Poppert said Wednesday morning. “Always ready to help. If you needed any help, he’d be there.” Robinson served on the fire crew at the speedway for several years. His dad, David Sr., worked as a track official. Poppert watched the younger Robinson grow to become an accomplished bowler. “He was an awesome, awesome bowler,” Poppert said, recalling a league at Mardi Gras Lanes in Sacramento. Gold Country News Service/Roseville Press-Tribune Sports Editor Bill Poindexter contributed to this story. Tow-truck dangers Several tow-truck-related deaths have occurred in recent years in the Auburn area. Among them were: - Bakersfield tow-truck driver Miguel Ramos, 42, died April 11, 2008, when his truck parked on I-80 near the Newcastle exit was struck by a big rig. The big-rig driver was sentenced to 60 days in Placer County jail on a misdemeanor manslaughter charge. - On Feb. 7, 2011, tow-truck driver Michael Robert Sanders of Auburn was killed after being hit by a box truck that drifted to the right shoulder of Highway 50 near the Latrobe Road exit in El Dorado Hills. - Amy Kathleen Keith, 33, of Auburn, died when the car she was driving Aug. 14, 2011, traveled onto the should of westbound I-80, west of the Newcastle off ramp, clipped the rear of a freeway service truck and then careered into a truck about to be hoisted onto a tow vehicle. – Gus Thomson