By: Dalene Davies-Smoot
There are times when I truly believe Bob will walk through the door, kiss me hello, and take ten minutes for each of us to download about how our day went. No matter what happened at his work, he always saw a positive side to it. He was the eternal optimist – the guy that if chased by a ravaging lion would climb a tree and be thankful for the view. Drivers loved Bob, and with good reason, he colored outside the lines for drivers. He was the best of the best at every operational task in the trucking industry. Not popular with some companies who felt drivers should be seen occasionally and never heard, Bob wanted check calls and updates – and not for the loads – for the drivers. He gave his cell phone number (and mine at times) to drivers so there was no excuse for not reaching him. Whether he was dispatching, brokering, doing log classes open door or behind closed doors, safety, you name it, Bob was the best. He didn’t do it for the companies he worked for – he did it for the industry because he knew a satisfied driver meant greater profitability, a better safety ranking, and longevity, in an industry where turnovers are commonplace because of the way drivers are treated. Bob Smoot was a driver’s friend. And if he wasn’t, you can bet the driver’s issues were far and above what Bob could fix. Such was the case on May 12, 2012, 5:04 p.m.
My world came to a standstill on that night in spring of 2012. Although I cannot share details, suffice to say the nightmare continues today as more information is gleaned from various people and events. The alleged shooter, Ronald Hawkinson, was apprehended quickly due to Bob’s quick thinking and heroic efforts regarding the 911 call. Hawkinson’s girlfriend, Rhonda Plew, was originally charged with aiding and abetting or something similar, but authorities failed to mirandize her so she literally walked. Hawkinson remains in Polk County jail awaiting trial after months and months of ridiculous attempts at dodging a fate that is soon to be rendered if I and Karma have anything to say about it.
On Monday, September 23, at 8:00 a.m., Ronald Hawkinson’s double murder trial will begin at the Polk County Courthouse in Des Moines, Iowa. The trial is public and anyone may attend. Who would I like to see there with me? Drivers. Dispatchers. Safety. Brokers. Mechanics. Any and everyone that supports the industry as Bob did and I do. It seems that Ronald Hawkinson is having some truth issues and is setting an example of what drivers are NOT, rather than what drivers ARE. I would love to have the courtroom filled with those who stand in Bob’s place to say to Hawkinson, “You are an idiot – a brainless monster. How dare you call yourself a truck driver. You are the filth that contributes to the wrongful public perception of who we are and what we stand for.” And I would love to be surrounded by all when the verdict of GUILTY is read.
My life will never be the same. I am in a financial crisis having lost my home, my car, and everything Bob and I had worked for in our 11 years of marriage. But those things can be retrieved eventually….my husband is gone from my physical presence forever. The shooter may have taken the breath from my husband, but he didn’t kill his spirit or his tenacity at pushing me forward even in his death. I have fought for justice for months, I will continue to do so long after the trial and sentencing. And I will continue the fight to educate the public on truckers – not just what they do but who they really are – great people trying to make a living for their families just like those who aren’t drivers.
Thank you, drivers, and all involved in trucking – thank you for your presence if only in spirit – thank you for giving Bob 26 years in the transportation industry which he so dearly loved – thank you for making me proud that my husband was in the industry. As Bob always told his drivers, “Be a fountain – not a drain.” Pour out good things for others – don’t drain yourself and others that which you cannot change anyway! Kiss each morning and know that a new day will bring something good…..
Beginning September 23, I begin the trek through hell to get to the day that will bring something good…justice for my husband. I gotta believe.