Channel 19

Todd Dills

Suspecting foul play in trailer deck collapse, car hauler vows vigilance

| July 20, 2011

File this under “lessons learned,” folks.

On May 9, 2011, after an afternoon loading cars in Shreveport, La., car hauler Marc Pogrebneak wheeled over to the Petro off I-20 for a quick shower, dinner and a call to his wife. He was set to roll into West Texas to stage near his load’s destination, and after a walk-around inspection of his truck, he set off. All seemed routine.

But when he made his destination and got out to do his post-trip, he realized he’d experienced something he felt couldn’t be the result of simple human error or mechanical failure — his suspicions are of foul play. A safety pin securing the rear upper deck of his trailer had been pulled, and the circumstances put responsibility for the damage that resulted solely on him. He was sidelined from what amounted to a “dream driving job” as far as he was concerned. Fortunately, he’d been taking pictures of his loads as a self-instruction tool in the complicated business of car loading, and after he presented photographic evidence of the pin’s proper placement prior to embarking on his trip, his carrier put him to work in the back office. But his hope for a quick return to a truck might be slim.

At issue were two badly damaged autos, a brand-new Chevy Silverado and Cruze, respectively, that were partly crushed under the weight of cars on the back deck, as you can see in the pictures.

All in all, Pogrebneak says, the cargo claim “cost them $60,000,” and he adds that he takes several lessons away from it all, chiefly to take every safeguard possible to prevent tampering with the load. Porgrebneak had left the power switch to the PTO that operates the trailer’s hydraulics on. “If I had that switch off, there’d have been no power to the back,” he says, and there would have been no way for anyone to pull the pin.

“This brings my awareness up higher,” says Pogrebneak. “Every time I stop I will check every inch of that truck.”

For others, he notes, “it doesn’t matter if you’re pulling cars or dry vans. I saw something happen three years ago in Abilene, Texas. I saw a guy who lost his trailer after someone pulled his kingpins.”

Fortunately for Pogrebneak, his fleet manager recently told him they wanted him back in a truck. “It’s starting to get positive,” he told me.

  • Carla J Gardiner

    I am sick hearing this. As if the road isn’t dangerous enough, now someone with a sick sense of humor is messing with your company’s bottom line, and your job security.

    As an auto transport broker, I hope you explained the whole story to your clients. Sometimes things happen, but it is evident that this was not your fault and one of those things. Thank goodness for insurance and a caring company that backs it’s employees. You are exactly the type of preferred auto hauler we look to work with. Thanks for sharing this experience for all of us to learn from.


  • Todd Dills

    Thanks for the feedback, Carla. Have you seen things like this happening among your haulers a great deal? Surely hope not, of course.

  • BigHighwayMike

    I disagree with Carla. This was totally the driver’s fault. Turning your PTO switch off is the last step before leaving on your trip, to prevent this type of situation from happening.
    This driver was obviously not givin the proper training by his company. That is what GM get’s for hiring a non-union company to haul new cars.

  • Todd Dills

    Mike, Duly noted. And lesson learned, as I noted, by the driver. Have you seen this kind of thing happen before in the car-hauling business?

  • Annabella Wood

    I was hauling gasoline around Los Angeles a while back, and I had to get on top of the trailer to load it. (This was years ago.) I came back down after loading, took care of the paperwork, got in the truck and left the refinery. As I pulled out of the refinery onto the street I felt the truck jump and heard a loud noise. I pulled over to the side and found that someone had lowered my landing gear while I was up loading the trailer. Fortunately for everyone, the tank did not rupture and spill the 8800 gallons of gasoline inside. I learned that night to never get into your truck without doing an inspection first.

  • Joel Sims

    Hey BighighwayMike, I have seen far too many damages by union guys for you to make a staement like that. Come to think of it I have seen the so called union pros cause matters just like that happen, along with breaking windows scratching cars. You union pukes need to get a grip on reality, your union is putting you out of work… Ask all the alied guys who are non union and proud. Have a nice day…

  • Todd Dills

    Fortunate, indeed, Annabella. Thanks for sharing the anecdote.

  • Marc Pogrebneak

    Thankyou Carla, Annabella and Joel for sharing or and putting your say in THANK YOU.But Mike:So its okay for someone to go ahead and tamper with someones truck trailer or some driver load. Put the driver in financial problems. I agree with what Joel has said in Mike reply. And MIKE I have been trained by the BEST….Like I said a lesson learned..You get Me once..You will NOT GET ME AGAIN….. strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.