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Truck Driver Lucky to be Alive

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San Francisco, CAThe details of David's truck accident remain so vivid that he remembers everything right down to the minute. At 57 years old and a driver since 1970, this is the only major accident he has had.

"It was March 26, 2008," he recalls, "at 11:35 a.m. I was driving along the Caltrans [California Department of Transportation], heading south, about 10-12 minutes from where I'd just come off 152 East. Up ahead cones were set up indicating that work was being done and that the left lane was closed.

Trucker"As far as I could see, Caltrans arrows were indicating to everybody to move to the left lane. All I could see was a line of cars and break lights. So I was coming behind all the traffic that was stopped and people were coming to a stop but still there were people passing me on the left, I guess to cut over at the last minute. I always leave a four to five car cushion in front of me.

Then as soon as I came to a dead stop I was hit from behind with this tremendous force that catapulted me forward. Luckily I didn't run into the back of anyone's car in front of me."

David calls his truck a 'set of doubles', in layman's terms a 2-axle tractor, with 2 trailers, one axle and a dolly inbetween the trailers.

"When he hit me," he continues, "he knocked my last trailer to my left; I could see in my mirror that I was dragging it down the highway. It knocked my feet off the clutch and everything so all I had was the steering wheel. The dolly inbetween the two trailers was like an accordion, all broken. It was when I looked to my right that I could see what hit me but it was so damaged I couldn't identify it. I said to myself, 'wow, it was another truck!'

Other truck drivers pulled over to stop and came running up to my truck asking me 'are you alright, are you alright?' I was dazed and stepped out of the truck. Then everyone was saying they smelled gas. It turned out to be a tanker truck and people started yelling 'get away, get away!', so I started moving away from the accident.

Then I saw the two or three truck drivers who had pulled over walking up to the damaged truck. They couldn't identify the truck either because it was so smashed and damaged in front that all I saw was the wheels. I saw the guys standing on the side of the truck and I was thinking that they were talking to the guy in the truck but, in fact, they were just standing there, saying it's okay.

By this time, I'd called dispatch to tell them what had happened. They wanted me to get the name of the truck but as I got closer to the truck all I could see was a man all smashed up in crushed metal. The windshield was all broken just like the smashed cars I used to haul. I could see a man inbetween; the motor and body were pushed back to his trailer so he was between all this metal, the trailer and the body. I could see he was blue, the kind of blue that showed he was dead. They had to cut him out. I gave dispatch the name on the truck door--it was Point California.

The highway patrol shut down the highway, and I waited and waited, what with all the reports and them getting my information. They kept wanting to take me to the hospital but I was not feeling any pain, just dazed and in shock. They also wanted to know how I'd survived or didn't get hurt, especially when since I was at a dead stop and the other guy when he hit me his speedometer stayed stuck at 57 mph.

Even the doctor said I was lucky. The next day that's when I felt everything; I couldn't even move--all in my neck, shoulder, back and all the way down to my lower back and to the hip. After the accident I was off work from the one Wednesday to the next one because they were saying it takes two to three weeks for the compensation paper work. I told this to the doctor and asked him to let me try and get up in the truck the following Wednesday but the work wasn't too hard because it's on all wheels.

On the job, they wanted me to continue therapy even when I told them it wasn't working. It was just last Wednesday (July 9) that I had a sonogram because I kept complaining of pain in my shoulder, and I was told I had a damaged tendon. Now they're concerned about my back so I'm taking an MRI next Wednesday (July 16) and will follow up with an MRI on my shoulder, neck and hip. My lower back is favoring my right side. I'll have the doctors' report on Wednesday.

For the moment, I'm still trying to work with the pain since I can't afford to take time off. But now I take it real easy when loading and unloading. It's a good thing all the loaded racks are on wheels."



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