‘Trucker lives matter’: Voices following tanker driver’s death in New Jersey last week

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The tweet above, shared from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, caught my eye this morning, given especially prescient import after Wendy Parker’s post from last week Friday. That post told the story of a tanker driver who lost his life after a mattress (un)secured to the top of a van broke loose on the New Jersey turnpike and brought traffic to a quick near-halt. The driver went right into open space to miss flattening a stopping four-wheeler ahead, rolling the tanker and sacrificing himself in the process. You can read Parker’s story here:

A memorial service for the driver was held yesterday, according to reports. He was identified as Dalip Kumar by the JSK Transport fleet he drove for and reportedly immigrated to the U.S. in 2005 and had been hauling since.

Several of your thoughts on the incident stood out. “He is a trucking professional,” Sam Olessi said of Kumar. “The video … shows traffic had almost come to a stop in his lane. The cars went left, he went right, to avoid running over someone…. Right lane was clear — always look in your mirror every five seconds. Trucking 101. God bless him and his family.”

Kevin J. Reidy concurred, noting that “he swerved to miss a Honda that came to a screeching halt in his lane, not a mattress directly. The mattress had just fallen off the roof of the van that was carrying it and it fell in front of the Honda driver. The tanker would have flattened the car and everyone in it if he hadn’t done what he did. As it was, he still clipped the Honda. My condolences to all who knew and loved that driver.”

My prayers go out to this family and may he Rest in Peace. My dad also had a wreck in a tanker and it burned. He was lucky, and so was his brother, Red, who also drove tankers. They both had bad wrecks because of four-wheelers. They escaped, but barely.

Jehoich added that she herself “had this happen just south of New River, Ariz. The pickup in front of me just had a mattress in the bed, not tied down. I had just come up to him and saw it when the box spring, actually, flew out of the bed and came at my windshield.” Driving in her own pickup, she “managed to avoid it, but that was one scary moment and that driver did not stop, either. They knew what had happened. My mom, kids and husband [were] with me. I’m glad my dad was a truck driver and taught me how to drive. It has sure come in handy many times over. Thank God for truck drivers.”

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The latest news reports on the 26-year-old Linden resident who was the driver of the van (mattresses secured to its top) suggest police are still investigating the accident. As yet, no charges have been filed.

As pondered another reader commenting under Parker’s post, “If this happened to a truck driver, and his load fell off and killed a car driver, there would be lawyers coming out of the blacktop. The driver, his company and the insurance company would all be hauled into court for a laundry list of offenses.”

“Trucker lives matter,” said another. “How is a truck driver’s life any less important than the non-commercial driver that constantly gambles our well-being to return home alive? I’ve heard it one too many times from other truck drivers they rarely received enough financial compensation to cover expenses after being involved in an accident that was not their fault. The lack of respect toward the men and women of our country that happily commit their lives to deliver freight is disheartening and damn shameful. It’s sad a story like this will be forgotten and lost upon the shameless pages of the Internet because we’re only concerned about the wrong actions committed by truckers.”


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