LINCOLN, R.I. (WPRI) — Tow truck drivers from all over the Northeast gathered Friday to pay respects to a fellow tow operator who died this week.

Drivers from as far away as Pennsylvania and Maine met at parking lot in Lincoln for a fitting tribute to John Martins – a funeral procession of tow trucks.

Martins, 52, of Pawtucket, was on his way to a crash in Connecticut Sept. 4 when one of his tires blew out on I-95, causing him to lose control of his truck, which then slid down an embankment and crashed into a tree. He died at the hospital three weeks later.

“I was very upset about it,” said Richard Zuercher, president of the Rhode Island Public Towing Association. “I knew John personally. I met with him on several occasions for some business we were taking care of. It really hit home.”

Close friends say Martins had a big company that was known throughout the East Coast, and that he was a big influence in the towing community. They remember him as a humble man with a big heart, dedicated to his profession and his family. He was a father of three.

“He was a hard-working guy. Never stopped working. Kept building his company,” Zuercher added.

Even though tow companies compete for business, the drivers consider themselves a family. People who’ve never even met Martins said they were honored to support him.

“We are professionals, and this is what professionals do. They stick together as a team,” said John Beaulieu, operations manager of Interstate Towing in Chicopee, Mass.

The tow truck procession ended at the Gate of Heaven cemetery in Riverside, where Martins was laid to rest.