“I’m not going to drive anymore,” now-retired truck driver J.E. Tucker told North Dakota’s Inforum news site, after losing control of a Freightliner dump truck in Fargo Monday, causing him to strike another vehicle and crash through nine units of a storage building.
Although Mr. Tucker, a 57-year-old resident of Barnesville, Minnesota, told Inforum he would likely lose his commercial driver’s license because of the crash, Monday’s incident was really just the feather in the cap of a man whose health and driving record were a preamble for disaster.
Mr. Tucker told Inforum he has Type 2 diabetes and also received a head injury a number of years ago after being struck in the head with a two-by-four while working in a barn. The cause of the crash is still under investigation, but Mr. Tucker said the last thing he remembered was trying to radio a co-worker for directions. Then, according to Inforum, “everything went black.”
The truck rolled through an intersection, slammed into the back of a car, which spun out and struck two other cars, and then crashed into the commercial storage building, causing an estimated $200,000 in damage. The next thing Mr. Tucker remembered was waking up in the shattered ruins of the storage unit.
Prior to Monday’s crash, Mr. Tucker was also involved in a hit-and-run crash last year in Iowa. In that incident, Mr. Tucker slammed into the back of a car in a construction zone where traffic was restricted to one lane. According to Inforum, “the semitrailer sustained ‘disabling damage’ but fled the scene, later stopping at an off-ramp, where authorities located Tucker.”
Mr. Tucker alleges that the car he struck swooped in front of him too quickly and then stood on the brakes, leaving him almost no time to stop. Nevertheless, authorities cited and ultimately fined him for leaving the scene of an accident, following too closely, and driving log violations.
According to Inforum, Mr. Tucker also caused two accidents in Missouri. In November 2007, he plead guilty and was fined in Clay County for “operating a motor vehicle in a careless and imprudent manner.” Mr. Tucker told authorities he was choking on phlegm, which caused him to careen off a Missouri interstate, down an embankment, and cross an access road and field before entering the interstate again. Authorities said the probable cause of that incident as inattention and physical impairment.
The other accident occurred in September 2009 on a Kansas City area interstate when Mr. Tucker merged onto another vehicle. Mr. Tucker told authorities that the woman in the car he hit was “busy yapping on the phone” and wouldn’t move over.
But that’s not all. According to Inforum, Tucker was also fined $105 in Minnesota for an overweight violation in one county and cited for speeding 64 mph in a 55-mph zone in another county. In North Dakota, he was cited for speeding 45 mph in a 35-mph zone in North Dakota.
In Iowa, Mr. Tucker was fined in 2007 for driving with a leaky brake hose. In 2009, he was fined for an Hours-of-Service (HoS) violation.
Most surprising of all is the fact that Mr. Tucker not only retained his commercial driver’s license, he also found employment as a truck driver despite this record. His employer, JD Kraemer Enterprises of Fargo, told Inforum that the company conducted a background check on Mr. Tucker before hiring him nearly a year ago but hired him anyway. “He’s been a good employee, good worker, been on time, everybody likes him,” the company owner told Inforum.
“I thank the Lord that nobody was injured and nobody was killed.”