A Florida truck driver was crushed to death by his own load in St. Cloud, Florida on Wednesday afternoon after the metal beams he was hauling came loose and crashed through the cab of his truck.
Glen Estien, 32, of Orlando, Florida, slammed on the brakes to avoid hitting an area fire truck turning onto Narcoossee Road as responded to a vehicle fire nearby. The sudden stop caused the heavy metal beams to shift forward, penetrate the tractor, and crush Estien against the steering wheel, killing him instantly, officials said.
“It is very sad because he was trying to do the right thing and stop,” Estien’s friend, Jose Santiago told the Orlando Sentinel. “Many people just keep driving.”
Osceola County firefighters are required to activate an emergency signal before pulling out of the station, which changes the light at the intersection Estien stopped at from flashing-yellow to red, but witnesses told investigators that change didn’t happen.
“In as long as it’s been there, I’ve never seen it change to red – so I mean I see them pull out several times a day,” Stephen Steele who lives in the area told WESH-TV.
Although some say Estien didn’t have enough reaction time because the light didn’t change, Osceola officials claim that the light had in fact changed from yellow to red.
“All precautions were taken by firefighters,” said Andrew Sullivan, Osceola’s public information coordinator. “It is more than unfortunate that this happened.”
Investigators with the Florida Highway Patrol are also looking into a separate issue – who loaded the beams and how they were secured on the bed of the truck.
“In any normal situation, those beams should not come loose simply by applying the brakes,” Florida Highway Patrol spokeswoman Kim Montes told WESH. “This truck struck no other vehicle. There was no other impact, so they should stay in place.”
Due to its spotty record, the owner of the truck – Sunshine Freight Carriers Inc. based in Kissimmee, Florida – has lately been a priority for increased safety inspections including HOS evaluations, according to federal officials.
In the past two years, Sunshine Freight has racked up 17 maintenance violations including one for failure to prevent cargo from shifting, one for damaged cargo restrains or tie-downs and another for failing to meet minimum tie-down requirements.
Estien moved to Florida 12 years ago from his hometown of Dorado, Puerto Rico and started driving truck 4 years ago. He loved fishing with his 8 -year-old daughter and friends say he was someone who always had a smile on his face.