Vehicle accidents happen


February 26, 2019



Darren and Dee Gooch, owners of Zoellner Exterminating, Catoosa, Okla., found out the hard way that a Ford F-150 is no match for a speeding semi truck. One of their technicians, who had just found out she was pregnant, was rear-ended by an 18-wheeler in a construction zone on the highway. She was driving the 40 mph speed limit, but the truck driver was doing approximately 75 mph. The impact pushed her truck into a center wall and totaled four other vehicles.

First responders said if she had been driving a smaller truck, she could have been killed. “Thank God she was in a full-size vehicle,” Darren says. “She walked away just a little sore and bruising.” Her pregnancy was not affected (she eventually gave birth to a healthy baby boy), but the truck was a complete loss. “The Highway Patrol and firefighters on the scene said the only thing intact on the truck was the cab,” Darren says. “The truck bed was crumpled like a taco.”

Although the cab was completely enclosed, everything in it flew out and was demolished. “The semi hit her so hard, there were tools 300 yards away,” Dee says. “Her iPad was about 100 yards behind the wreck.” The equipment had to be replaced; the insurance company settled the claim six months later.

“The accident was a real kick in the gut,” says Darren. “You don’t realize how much one vehicle down can affect your revenue, routes, everything.” He says drivers who saw the wreck and recognized the company’s truck called the company, well before the police and their technician called to tell them what happened.

“People passing the wreck would call our business number and say, ‘I’m praying for you guys, I see one of your trucks,’” Darren recalls. “People we didn’t even know left messages about the wreck.”

First responders asked about the company’s safety data sheets (SDSs) and spill kit, which flew out of the truck on impact, Dee says. She recommends securing them in the vehicle. An annual review meeting of what to do and whom to call in case of an emergency is good practice, too.


About the Author

Headshot: Diane Sofranec

Diane Sofranec is the senior editor for PMP magazine. She can be reached at or 216-706-3793.

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