Lasting legacy | 9/11 special report

Todd Dills and Max Kvidera | September 06, 2011


Onlookers salute a Landstar convoy hauling remains of the World Trade Center’s steel “trees” from a hangar at JFK International Airport to their final display site in a museum in Coatesville, Pa., in 2010.










 

Events of 9/11 altered many truckers’ lives and prompted numerous changes in the trucking industry




Where were you on 9/11?

Florida-based owner-operator Tim Philmon was sitting in his 2001 Mack Vision at a shipper near the Miami airport. He and several other drivers he knew were waiting to load when they heard the first plane had flown into the World Trade Center’s North Tower that morning.

“One of the guys had a TV in his truck,” Philmon says, “and we were watching, trying to figure out what was going on,” when the second plane flew into the South Tower. Soon, Philmon noticed a dearth of planes in the sky.

In Dallas, then-Prime-leased owner-operator Mike Crawford noticed the empty skies, too, during a pick-up of shingles. “The planes were going over to Love Field in Dallas and, all of a sudden, there were no planes. I got loaded and got out of there and was going to stop in Ana, Texas, at the Love’s to get some fuel.”

Twenty miles from the stop, Crawford received a call from his wife, who was in tears. “She wanted to know where I was, what I was doing. ‘Be careful, be careful,’ she said, then telling him what had happened. “I said, ‘Honey, they aren’t going to blow up a load of shingles.’”

When Crawford, a Marine veteran of the Vietnam War, saw the Pentagon had also been hit, he thought about his Army nephew, who worked at the facility.

Bettina Cameron, a team driver with her husband, Brian, for Quest Global, was hauling team for Covenant Transport at the time. They had delivered in Long Island on Sept. 10 and were dispatched to Milton, Pa., to load the next morning. “Our dispatcher woke us up,” Cameron says, “wanting to know if we heard the news.” They watched the South Tower being hit.

Perkins Specialized-leased owner-operator Dick McCorkle, meanwhile, was stuck in a warehouse in Manhattan, backed into a shipping facility at 42nd Street and Seventh Avenue “when the lights went out,” he says. “They used emergency lighting to open the door and let me out, but there was nowhere for me to go” — 42nd Street was completely shut off; traffic lights weren’t working. “All emergency units (including all police and fire departments) were headed to Lower Manhattan.

“People approached my truck multiple times to see if I could get any information on my radio, but at this point even my CB was useless,” he says. “Cell phones were down. I could barely talk to the people across the street.”

At the 10th anniversary of 9/11, Truckers News takes stock of how the event changed the industry, from camaraderie among drivers to regulations and business, for better and worse.