Monday, September 28, 2009

Tragedy Strikes at Thompson Building, 1988

Last Wednesday's fire is not the first tragedy to occur at the Thompson Block. In May of 1988, a garbage truck driver lost his brakes on top of Cross Street hill. . . and as his brakeless truck began the descent into Depot Town, which was crowded with construction vehicles, he leaned out of the truck and yelled at people to keep away. The following is the text of the May 4, 1988 Ann Arbor News story by Laura Bischoff:

YPSILANTI-The driver of a garbage truck careening without brakes down a hill toward Depot Town warned pedestrians and construction crews to clear the intersection and swerved to avoid them, but lost his own life when he failed in an attempt to leap clear of the tipping truck.

Shaun Ivan Jobcar, 25, died Tuesday afternoon while pinned underneath the garbage truck. His co-worker and passenger, Joseph C. Laudati, 20, stayed in the cab and had minor injuries, police said.

The truck, owned by the Jobcar family company, King Rat Disposal, was traveling downhill on westbound East Cross Street toward North River Street, and the driver was honking, waving, and yelling to people at the intersection that his brakes were out.
Ypsilanti police said this morning that some of the brake hoses were disconnected and poorly maintained. Further information was not available, police said.

Jobcar swerved right to avoid traffic and pedestrians, and the truck began to tip, witnesses said. He jumped out of the cab as the truck was turning and tipping, and the truck fell on top of him in a pile of dirt on the shoulder, according to witness Randy Carpenter.

"They almost hit me," said a woman directing traffic around the North River Street construction site, who refused to give her name. "They took the barricade I was standing next to. He was going really fast, and he just kept honking and yelling, 'Get out of the way, get out of the way.'"

She said she wondered why Jobcar's door was open at the top of the hill. She also added that she didn't think he had downshifted into a lower gear on the way down.

Tim Shelly of Ypsilanti said he was walking to he store and was about 30 feet from the accident when it happened. "He had no choice but to turn or take out about four or five cars," he said. "I thought he had jumped far enough away.

Shelly said he pulled passenger Laudati, an Ypsilanti resident, from the cab immediately after the crash.

North River Street is rough and torn and the shoulder is soft dirt because it is being prepared for resurfacing by Cunningham and Gooding of Ypsilanti. Shelly said he believed some of the heavy equipment the construction company had on the site could have been used to turn the truck upright and possibly save Jobcar's life.

But Ypsilanti police said this morning it was doubtful that Jobcar could have been saved even if the truck could have been righted immediately.

About 30 police and rescue workers responded to the scene at 2:34 p.m. The truck was eventually lifted with air compressors, and Jobcar was taken to the county morgue, Ypsilanti police said.

Jobcar was a longtime Ypsilanti resident but had recently moved to a Belleville address, police said.

Ypsilanti police, Michigan State Police and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute are investigating the accident, said Ypsilanti police Lt. James MacMillan.

Funeral services will be held at Moore Memorial Chapel in Ypsilanti, but details have not yet been worked out.

1 comment :

Edward Vielmetti said...

I sent this clip to the reporter who wrote the story, Laura Bischoff, who now is at the Dayton Daily News (and who I went to college with).