Lasting legacy | 9/11 special report

Todd Dills and Max Kvidera | September 06, 2011

While Highway Watch was supported by carriers and their organizations, First Observer has the backing of the Teamsters Union and OOIDA. “Now, First Observer could be very effective. However, you’re not going to find a lot of trucking industry companies getting involved [because of concerns over Teamsters’ gaining access to driver information],” Conley says. Arrington asserts, however, Teamsters won’t have access to information about truckers making First Observer calls.

Fountain says that though usage of security technology such as GPS tracking has increased in the past decade, he doesn’t link it specifically to 9/11. “Obviously, 9/11 did have an impact on trucking, but a whole lot more has happened in recognition of the value in taking security precautions and the value of new technology in operations,” he says.

Where are they now?

Devastation changes driver

James Jaillet

Brian Wilson, a regional driver for heavy haul specialist Trans American Trucking in South Plainfield, N.J., was featured in the lead photo of Truckers News’ 9/11 coverage published in the November 2001 issue, then describing ground zero as “a war zone.”

Featured here in Truckers News in 2001, Brian Wilson hauled transformers for General Electric to ground zero to help restore power after 9/11.

He says General Electric was “coming into our yard pretty much right after the towers fell,” asking the company to deliver transformers and other electrical equipment into the city to help restore the city’s power grid and other infrastructure. For about two and a half weeks, he says, he was hauling loads steadily into the city.

“I’m glad I was there,” Wilson says 10 years later. “It made me a different person, seeing the devastation and destruction. It changed my life. I do things differently now. I wish there was more I could have done to save lives, but unfortunately I don’t think there’s anything anybody could have done.”

Today, Wilson is still doing heavy haul projects for Trans American. The Edison, N.J., resident says he hauls 200- to 300-thousand-pound loads in the Northeast.

Where are they now?

Crane hauler moves forward

James Jaillet

Heavy hauler Tim Shipe hauled pieces of both the 1,000-ton and 750-ton cranes used to clean up debris at ground zero just a week after the attacks. Truckers News featured Shipe in its November 2001 9/11 coverage, when he said, “We’ve been sitting here for days while they fight over where to put [the cranes].”

All Erection and Crane Rental trucks convoy from Maryland to ground zero in New York City carrying pieces of a 1,000-ton crane used in cleanup. John Bacci, logistics manager for the company, says people along the route gave them the flags in the photos. “It was a special deal to have that photo,” he says.

Ten years later, Shipe says making runs to ground zero is something “I’ll never forget. It was just ungodly. To look and see that much devastation had been done by two planes, you just stood there in awe because you couldn’t believe how much devastation was done that quick.”

Shipe drives for All Erection and Crane Rental, who supplied two of the cranes used in the cleanup operations. He says he was running a four-axle truck in 2001, and he drove pieces of a 1,000-ton crane from Maryland to New York. “We were escorted by Maryland state patrol and Pennsylvania state troopers all the way to the George Washington Bridge.” There, he says, authorities made the drivers park and wait along the Hudson.

Two weeks later, he hauled pieces of a 750-ton crane in, and eight months after that, he drove back to retrieve the company’s cranes. “By then it was just desolate land,” he says. “They had taken all of the buildings down that had been destroyed, and it was just like ‘wow.’ I couldn’t believe the sight of it.”

Shipe still works for the company making heavy hauls nationally.

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