Trucking Industry News

« Recent Trucking News

Trucker dies after trying to help at crash

2012-05-09 15:59:24

Discuss This Article in our Forums

Donald Duncan Jr. was the kind of guy who got along with everyone and the kind of person to help those in need.

In the early hours of March 13, Duncan, a truck driver, stopped to help two fellow truck drivers who were involved in a crash on a stretch of the Indiana Toll Road in St. Joseph County, Ind.

While attempting to rescue one of the drivers, who unbeknownst to Duncan had already fled the fiery cab, Duncan suffered fatal burns and injuries.

Duncan, of McConnellsburg, Fulton County, died of his injuries at a burn center in Kalamazoo, Mich. on Saturday. He was 58.

His stepdaughter, Nichole Earley of McConnellsburg, said Duncan's selfless act is how he lived his life.

"That is who he was. He would do anything for anybody," she said.

Family: Duncan, formerly of Hanover, enjoyed spending time with his extensive family and his grandchildren, Earley said.

He liked being home with his grandchildren and taking family camping trips to Virginia.

"He left behind a wonderful legacy for his grandkids and one that everyone should follow," Earley said.

When he wasn't with his extended family, Duncan liked being at home with his wife of 25 years, Audrey Duncan.

Audrey Duncan said she'll miss sitting out on the patio at the couple's home talking and watching wildlife, as well as the daily calls from him while he was out on the road.

Donald Duncan would call his wife about 5 a.m. every morning to chat.

"I will miss talking to him on the cellphone," she said.

While Donald Duncan was in the hospital, family members would make the 8- to 9-hour drive to Kalamazoo. Earley said she made the trek nearly every weekend.

Audrey Duncan stayed at the hospital.

"She never left his side," Earley said.

Driving: Donald Duncan was doing what he loved just before he was injured.

He was a truck driver for 42 years and was most recently employed by TDI/Harley-Davidson in Springettsbury Township, according to his obituary.

Hauling a trailer full of Harley motorcycles brought a special joy to Donald Duncan.

A Harley owner and rider himself, Duncan got a kick out of seeing the smiling faces when he pulled up to a dealership, Earley said.

"That was his dream job," she said.

Audrey Duncan wasn't surprised that her husband stopped that fateful morning in Indiana to help two fellow truck drivers.

"That's just the type of person he was," she said. "When it comes to truck drivers, they look out for each other."

The crash:

Donald Duncan Jr. suffered severe burns to most of his body and serious injuries when he attempted to rescue a fellow truck driver on the Indiana Toll Road in St. Joseph County, Ind., on March 13.

About 3:54 a.m., a westbound tractor-trailer driven by Harish Kumar of California was in the process of overtaking another tractor-trailer driven by Keith Kloss of Sharon, Pa., according to Indiana State Police.

Kumar's rig swerved in front of the one Kloss was driving and went off the highway. Kloss' tractor-trailer hit Kumar's trailer and bust into flames, police said.

Duncan was also driving west and stopped to help.

He went to the passenger side of Kloss' cab in an attempt to rescue the driver when a possible explosion occurred, knocking Duncan to the ground, police said.

Unbeknownst to Duncan, Kloss was able to get out the cab under his own power.

Kloss suffered facial lacerations and broken ribs and was taken to an area hospital. Kumar was not injured, police said.

Police believe Kumar was possibly fatigued at the time of the crash because he had driven four to five hours over his allowed time.

Duncan was first taken to an area hospital and then transported to a Kalamazoo, Mich., burn unit where he died of his injuries.