Monthly Archives: October 2014

World’s Largest Truck Convoy

Check out how some truckers are supporting Special Olympics with their Truck:

“The Truck Convoy® is a unique one-day celebration of the trucking industry and its support of Special Olympics. Local law enforcement makes special dispensation and escorts a convoy of trucks up to 50 miles through their town.”

http://resources.specialolympics.org/Sections/Donate/Truck_Convoy.aspx

http://fox2now.com/2014/10/26/video-mysterious-truck-convoy-has-i-64-drivers-wondering-if-theyre-in-the-twilight-zone/?utm_content=buffer4db40&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

underride guards trip to RDU 006

The Court Hearing; Update On Our Trip To Georgia

 braids and giraffe 011

Update on our trip to Georgia.  .  . First of all, thank you for your prayers and concern for us.

We left early for Georgia so as to be able to attend a worship service at the church in Augusta, Georgia, whose pastor met Jerry at the hospital when he first arrived in Georgia after the crash and was trying to find where Mary was. After they were able to find Mary, the pastor asked what they could do to help. Jerry asked him to make sure that Mary was never alone. So he arranged for their members to take turns being with Mary 24/7 in her hospital room–holding her hand, reading the Bible to her, singing and talking to her–since Jerry had to attend to so many things including visiting me at my hospital 2 hours away.

On Sunday morning, I was able to meet most of the people who spent time with Mary–giving/getting hugs and taking their picture. A couple of them mentioned how caring the nurses had been–speaking to Mary (who was unresponsive) when they were taking care of her, always telling her what they were going to do or where they were taking her. That brings a measure of comfort to this mother’s heart.

Also, the pastor’s wife shared how she had gone to the hospital that Sunday morning the day after the crash, before Jerry had arrived, because she couldn’t stand the thought of 13 year-old Mary being all alone. However, she was not able to see Mary then as she was still a Jane Doe (or Sierra Trauma according to some medical records) and could not be positively identified until Jerry arrived. I am so thankful that she cared enough to at least try.

After church, the pastor and his wife invited us to lunch and we were joined by one of the members who had sat with Mary–the last one to do so before Mary died.

Before we left, they prayed with us. We were reminded by the pastor that no matter the outcome of the hearing, we should not expect to feel satisfied. That is our ongoing experience: His peace that passes all understanding does not always mean that we will be happy with how things come out for the simple reason that NOTHING will bring AnnaLeah and Mary back to us in this life.

Next, Jerry was kind enough — despite the hard memories it brought to the surface for him — to drive me by the hospital where Mary spent her last days on this earth, to fill in that  empty spot for me which had no memories to hold onto.

We then left for Greensboro, Georgia, to spend the night at a bed & breakfast before attending the court hearing on Monday. It was a blessing to be in that place—a large Southern “mansion” which had been in the owner’s family for over 100 years. We were there all by ourselves and enjoyed the peace & quiet and not speaking of the next day much at all.

We were amazed the next morning when, as the owners were fixing our breakfast and setting the fancy table, we discovered that he had been a lawyer for 40 years and was very familiar with some of the horrific problems with truck crashes. He was concerned with what was expected as the outcome and shared our frustrations with what appears to be A BROKEN SYSTEM.

And that is what I would like to write further posts about in http://annaleahmary.com/ and will let you know when I do so–in case you are interested in learning more. We have many concerns and, while we do not want to let the frustrations rule our lives, we cannot ignore them. If we have become enlightened and do not act to seek change, then who will?

The actual court hearing was very hard. The DA gave an account of the crash–repeated by the Mongolian interpreter–and outlined the plea deal: 24 months probation with his CDL surrendered for that period, community service & attendance at a MADD victim impact class.

Then Jerry and I were given an opportunity to speak. I daresay that the Victim Impact Statement which he had written was probably the most difficult thing Jerry has ever had to read–about what we had lost and why we hoped that the driver would never have a CDL again and have the opportunity to take another life.

Victim Impact Statement

 When I then had a chance to speak, I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to say until shortly before. I showed the truck driver Mary’s braids and said that that was all that I had left of her. I told him about how creative AnnaLeah was and showed him a giraffe she had made shortly before the crash and told him how she loved to write.

Then, I told him how we had found some things that the girls had written when we were going through their belongings. I shared with him–repeated by the interpreter–how AnnaLeah had written that,

“You will never be worthy of proclaiming Christ’s name,

But Christ’s name will always be worthy of proclaiming.”

Then, I told him how we found a letter that Mary had written to herself shortly before the crash that she planned on reading in ten years (2023). I told him how, in that letter, she said that she hoped that she still believed in God and that she better because He was the most important thing in the world. And I told him how she also said that she hoped that she would be living every day as if it were her last day.

Finally, I told him that I thought that the girls would want him to know that Jesus died for him.

After the hearing, we spent over two hours in a room with him as our civil lawyer questioned the truck driver to try and get some of the answers which we had, thus far, been unable to get through any investigation (and because his lawyer wanted him to Plead the Fifth until the criminal case was completed). Jerry commented later how rough it was to be across the table from him.

back of headstone

Bloomberg News: In-Depth Reports on Trucking Safety Issues

Check out these in-depth articles on issues related to safety on the road.

IMG_4462

Truck Drivers Call In To Discuss Trucking Issues

Here is an interesting call-in show about the transportation industry & highway safety:

http://www.c-span.org/video/?321618-5/washington-journal-jeff-plungis-trucking-industry-safety

Washington DC 151

IIHS Reports on New Crash Testing for Improved Underride Guards

IIHS October 2014 Status Report Article First Page

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has just released a report on recent crash testing for one trailer manufacturer’s improved design for their rear underride guard. Vanguard has now passed the 50% overlap test–with testing still needed for the more narrow overlap test at the edges of the trailer’s guard.

Additional companies have plans to get their guards tested in the future.

Our story is featured in this fall’s edition of the organization’s Status Report. We are thankful for their efforts to research and report on this vital truck safety issue. Their previous reports helped us to better understand the weakness of the current federal regulations for underride guards.

Read the report hereIIHS Status Report October 2014

Also, the Truck Safety Coalition has issued a press release on this issue:  http://trucksafety.org/press-release-industry-makes-improvements-while-rule-for-better-underride-languishes/

Link to IIHS Status Report Issueshttp://www.iihs.org/iihs/sr

November 2015 IIHS Status Report with an update on Single Unit Truck Underride Rulemaking:  http://www.iihs.org/iihs/sr/statusreport/article/50/9/2

 

IIHS October 2014 Status Report Cover

Entry Level Truck Driver Training

IMG_4475

We have come to realize that it is way too easy for someone to obtain a CDL to drive a truck–whether or not they have been adequately trained to do so or even are proficient in the language needed to understand all of the regulations involved and to communicate while on the job.

So we are glad to see the recent action taken to call for Secretary Foxx to issue minimum entry level training requirements. Please read about it here:

http://trucksafety.org/the-new-york-times-on-issuing-a-long-overdue-rule-for-entry-level-truck-driver-training/

Putting Public Safety Before Commerce: In Defense of Truck Safety Advocacy

Back in May 2013, Jerry’s sister, Kathy Jones, flew to Georgia to be with Jerry. While I was in the hospital myself, she was able to support him in all he had to go through in the aftermath of the crash and was able to be with him at Mary’s side in her hospital.

Now she has lent her support again with some insightful comments in response to some misguided online comments made by readers of the recent Bloomberg News article.

Read the article here:  http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-10-01/mom-takes-on-truckers-after-highway-wreck-kills-daughters.html

Although I spent a restless night after speaking with the reporter–not knowing how he would tell our story and wondering what was the point of more publicity, I am hopeful that hearts and minds can be changed and, together with the efforts of many others, we can make significant inroads into the goal, as Kathy said, of putting public safety before commerce.

Take a look at her back & forth comments; she did a great job. I think that AnnaLeah & Mary would give her a high five! Go, Aunt Kathy!

Minolta DSC

“Go, Aunt Kathy!” says Mary.

 

Underride Network Educational and Advocacy Efforts

I have not kept up with the comments to this website. This morning, I was trying to catch up on lots of things. I noticed a request to share a link on our site.

Here it is from Stephen Hadley at Underride Network (http://www.underridenetwork.org/GettingStarted.aspx):

“I have prepared a page to educate victims and concerned citizens for the rear underride guard rulemaking and would appreciate a link.

Rear Underride Guards:

http://www.underridenetwork.org/CurrentIssues/UnderrideGuards/RearGuard.aspx

Thank you, Stephen, for the work you have done for many years to advocate for safer underride guards.

The Rest of the Story

If you took the time to read about our crash in the Bloomberg News article published today, please don’t stop there. I want you to understand the entire scope of our concern about truck safety; and it is NOT all about being upset with the truck drivers.

 http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-10-01/mom-takes-on-truckers-after-highway-wreck-kills-daughters.html

Please read the post I wrote back in July, called “Our Crash Was Not An Accident.” It summarizes what I am trying to say and why, if we really want changes made in truck safety, we cannot just read and talk and complain about it.

We need to solve this problem together.

 http://annaleahmary.com/2014/07/our-crash-was-not-an-accident/

We Rescue Jesus Saves 018