A close friend and employee of an Arroyo Grande man who died in a construction accident on Thursday described him as hard-working and “generous to a fault.”
Daniel Robert Toste, 67, died after his upper torso was run over by a tire on a trailer attached to a dump truck, according to the CHP.
It was the first day on a paving job in Santa Maria for Toste, who has owned Toste Grading & Paving in Grover Beach for more than 30 years.
Longtime friend Ed Rains, who has worked for Toste for 20 years, on Friday called it a “freak accident.”
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The incident happed at about 12:30 p.m. when Paul Michaelson of Lompoc, parked in a dump truck with an attached trailer, backed up the truck 5 to 10 feet and then pulled into onto Highway 135, south of Foster Road.
Michaelson then noticed Toste lying on the ground.
A fresh shoe print was later seen on the draw bar between the truck and the trailer. CHP officials determined that Toste had stepped up on the draw bar but it was unclear what happened after the truck started to move.
“We’re not sure if he slipped off or jumped off when he realized the truck had started to move,” said CHP Officer Rob Wallace.
The CHP at this point does not have any witnesses to say what Toste was doing before the incident.
Toste was pronounced dead at Marian Medical Center in Santa Maria.
Rains said that Toste grew up in Lemoore, near Fresno, and served in the U.S. Marine Corps. He moved to the Central Coast sometime after leaving the service, and started working for a paving company.
Toste eventually decided to start his own business with a dump truck and a tractor, Rains said. Now, several of Toste’s 17 employees have worked with him for decades.
“That speaks highly of the man and the people that loved him very much,” Rains said.
“We’re just coping,” he added.
Toste is survived by one son, who also owns a business in the area. Rains said a memorial service will be planned soon.
“He’s helped a lot of people over his lifetime,” Rains said. “He was just a worker guy. From dawn to sunset, he was a hard worker.”