Tow truck driver murdered on video

A wreck chaser who allegedly ran over a rival tow operator several times with his truck in what a prosecutor called a “brutal, clear showing of intent to kill” was held for trial on murder charges yesterday.

Surveillance footage showed a truck allegedly driven by Glen McDaniel of Straight Up Towing driving over Ray Santiago of Siani’s Towing then reversing and running him over again before taking off just before 3 a.m. on Sept. 26.

The lone witness at the preliminary hearing, wreck-chaser Jonathan Marrero, said the incident occurred during a turf-war showdown between drivers for rival companies. Siani’s drivers claimed the area as their own and thought the other company was “infringing on their territory.” While roughly 10 drivers were jawing in a Sunoco parking lot, McDaniel and Santiago got into a fistfight across the street.

“I saw Ray’s body under the truck,” said Marrero, a fellow wreck chaser who then rushed over. “I wanted to see if there was anything I could do to help him, get him to the emergency room. He looked like he was already dead.”

Marrero was the only driver who waited for police to find the 30-year-old victim behind O’Reilly’s Pub at Frankford and Lehigh. McDaniel, 25, of the 2800 block of Aramingo Avenue, was captured a few blocks away. Cuffed in court, he stared at Marrero throughout.

Assistant District Attorney James Berardinelli called the footage “as brutal [a crime] as I’ve ever seen caught on video” and intentionally positioned the television so the victim’s family couldn’t see.

Tow drivers ‘not above the law’

When City Council granted tow-industry oversight to the Philadelphia
Parking Authority last month, bill sponsor City Councilman James Kenney
said, “If they treated people fairly, we wouldn’t be here today.” Kenney
said yesterday that it was about more than customer service, though. It
was a public safety issue, too.

“The lives of drivers and pedestrians could be at risk,” he said. “They
can’t view themselves as above and beyond the law.”

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