A Dangerous Week for Truck Drivers

by Jana Ritter - Published: 12/19/2013

A husband-and-wife truck driving team died in Nebraska on Wednesday when their semi careened off Interstate 80 and exploded. Nebraska State Patrol said the woman was driving and after failing to navigate a slight left curve, the truck blew through the guardrail and dropped onto the West O street on-ramp leading to the interstate’s westbound lanes.

Crash leftover

The truck exploded on impact and started grass on the hill on the west of the ramp on fire. Two men tried to save the woman inside the truck, but flames beat them back, said Marlin Bennett, a 48-year-old Grand Island man who came upon the crash on his way home. “They were standing in the fire,” he said. “They couldn’t get to her. The fire was too hot.” Bennett said he saw and heard several explosions, and thought they might have been propane tanks and aerosol cans. “When I first got up here, it was like a popcorn bag,” he said. When rescue workers arrived, the truck was fully engulfed in flames and what was left of it was scattered along the ramp.

The truck drivers live in East Canton, Ohio, and were hauling dry goods for U.S. Xpress Enterprises out of Chattanooga, Tenn., but investigators won’t identify the truckers until they can let their relatives know what happened, she said.

Another major accident occurred this week in Jacksonville North Carolina, leaving a Fed Ex driver in critical condition. On Tuesday, Stephen Thorne was airlifted to Vidant Medical Center where after a 2009 Ford Super Duty pickup truck failed to stop at the red light, striking the Federal Express delivery truck. Thorne, the FedEx driver, was ejected from the truck which then continued traveling unoccupied striking a 2011 Chevrolet Cruze and then continued southeast, striking a 2002 Suzuki passenger car. The Suzuki then moved backward, striking a 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Meanwhile, the FedEx vehicle continued to head south, striking a 2008 Mack Truck owned by Morton Trucking, Inc., where it came to a final rest, according to JPD.

Meanwhile, the pickup truck which caused the chain of events had continued heading south and struck a 2007 GMC Yukon. JPD officials said Wednesday that the wreck remains under investigation.