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Semi Truck Drops From the Sky, Kills One

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Toronto, ONIt's not often that a truck falls from the sky—but that's exactly what happened in Canada's largest city earlier this month: a truck accident involving a major highway as the first crush of cars were competing for pavement along the busy Queen Elizabeth Expressway (QEW). Trucking accidents, and especially semi truck accidents can be deadly. And it was, this day, in Toronto.

Highway RampIt was just prior to 6:30am on November 5th. Early, yes—but Toronto is known for it's all-day traffic loads, and 6:30 in the morning can see gridlock. At best, the highways 400, 401, 427 and QEW are swelled with traffic. Thousands of cars, as well as transport trucks, all in a hurry to get somewhere.

And when you drive frequently in such traffic, you've seen just about everything: cars cutting other cars off, a myriad of fender-benders and rear-enders. It's all part of the territory. But no one had ever seen anything like that which unfolded on November 5th at 6:30am, during an otherwise uneventful commute.

A transport truck loaded with copper tubing was traveling southbound along Highway 427. The truck was on the ramp, which means the behemoth and its load were suspended above several dozen cars traveling below, on the QEW. Ramps are curved, and on this morning the driver was guiding his truck along the ramp, and along the curve. In effect, he was in a turn.

That's when the trailer, for some unknown reason came loose from the cab of the truck. Still supporting its load of heavy copper tubing, the wayward trailer plunged over the guardrail and crashed into the highway below.

One person driving his pickup truck along the QEW saw the trailer plunge over the side of the overpass in a surreal scene. He slammed on his brakes, expecting that he had breathed his last. A load of copper tubing slammed down onto the front hood of his truck, but luckily he was spared.

Others weren't so lucky. Harry Taylor, 53, was driving his daughter to work in Oakville. Daughter Stephanie told the Toronto Star that she saw the trailer suddenly come over the side and begin falling like a "massive slab of ice coming down," practically on top of them. "I saw it, (my Dad) saw it, but there was no time to say anything. He reacted," she says, "and whatever he did, it probably saved my life."

Sadly, it didn't save his. The massive trailer and payload came crashing down on top of their car, practically splitting it in two. Stephanie Taylor, 26, crawled out of the wreckage despite being bloodied and bruised, through a rear window. Her father, however, had to be extracted from the car using the Jaws of Life.

He was airlifted to hospital in critical condition, but he never regained consciousness and later died.

Many others were injured. The trailer fell onto, and damaged or destroyed four vehicles. Two other vehicles were hit with debris.

"I haven't seen much worse than this," said Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Const. Dave Woodford, commenting at the scene.

An OPP probe is attempting to determine what caused the trailer to become separated from the powered cab of the truck. While the investigation continues, it has been reported that the OPP is looking at speed, the mechanics of the truck, the driver's record and fatigue, as factors which may have led up to the fatal semi truck accident.

Indeed, critics of the trucking industry fault maintenance procedures, and wonder if older trucks should be retired before metal fatigue, and other ailments which could compromise safety, set in. Was the driver going too fast? Was he sleep-deprived? There are strict regulations with regard to the number of hours drivers can be behind the wheel before they need to book off and rest, and log books are provided to record this information. However, without a partner available to verify information, recordings in a logbook are basically based on the honor system.

The driver of the truck suffered a broken jaw in the accident.

Due to the massive size of their rigs, truck drivers are rarely injured in even the most serious accidents. If they are injured at all, injuries tend to be far less severe than those strapped behind the wheel of a much smaller car that happens to be in a truck's path…

Either in front of a truck, or as was the case with this story—below.

Commuters along those busy stretches of highway, in the early morning rush hour of November 5th, will not soon forget the truck accident that result in a loaded trailer flying over a guard rail above, and crashing into the pavement directly in front, making this one of the worst semi truck accidents many have ever seen.


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