It was not long after I graduated high school that Cecil, my dad, hired on one of his trucks to haul equipment with an old Austin trucking firm. I was the driver that went with the truck. Charlie Evans had spent many years in the heavy haul business in Austin and branched out and opened up a second yard down in San Antonio. Business was expected to be pretty good there so I ended up being based out of that yard, which was on the east side out on I-10, near WW White Blvd.
I stayed in a fairly dated old place, the Horseshoe Motel. It was a run-down place, even for those times, but it was only a block or so from the trucking yard. Things weren’t as busy as Mr. Evans had hoped for, I’m sure. I would get a load or so a day, just enough to survive on but we weren’t going to become rich. One day later on in the afternoon the dispatcher called down to the motel, the office had to come get me to take a call as there weren’t phones in each room. She had a load I needed to make. I was ready for some action so I ran down and fired off that old truck and headed out to the new Calaveras Power Plant to pickup a 50 ton rough terrain crane that needed to be delivered back to the dealer.
I rolled into the job site just as the whistle blew to end the shift. The crane was right where they told me it would be, near the entrance. No one was left to help me load it and I had never been on a rubber tired crane like it before. The tires were wide enough that they extended out over the edge of the trailer on both sides. I figured out how to operate it and got it backed up on my lowboy. It had rained recently so the tires were muddy and slick. The position of the trailer was such that it was leaning ever so slightly.
Almost like everything was in slow motion, as I got the back wheels of the crane all the way to the back of the trailer deck, I could feel the crane start to slide sideways. Moments later I could feel it start to topple. I made a hard leap from the cab to the muddy ground below. With the crane on its side, the boom was inches from my legs as I lay prone on the ground.
As large of a site as that was, not one person was left to come see if I was okay. I hooked back up to my lowboy and headed back to the yard. The next morning I told the dispatcher what had happened and she got Mr. Evans on the phone for me to talk to and explain what happened. He just said “well that why we pay for insurance”.
A little while after that incident happened he decided to close that yard and move everything back to Austin. I don’t know how much the crane accident weighed on the decision. I moved on to other endeavors.
A year or two later there was a trial that took place in San Antonio, where everyone was suing everyone else. That was my first time to go on a witness stand and give my testimony. It was good practice for what would happen many other times throughout my lifetime in the construction business.
This is a Rough Terrain Crane very similar to the one in the story.