VICKSBURG, Miss. — Bad brakes are probably why a 20-year-old dump truck rolled backward into the Mississippi River, drowning the 22-year-old driver, according to Vicksburg police.
A report by Traffic Investigator Leonce O. Young also states that investigators could not open the driver’s-side door from inside, and it was hard to open from outside, The Vicksburg Post (http://bit.ly/2dKnxB9) reported.
The 1995 Volvo dump truck and driver Michael Collins went into the river about 5 p.m. Aug. 23 at a rock yard in Vicksburg.
The truck was found that night, deep in the river, but it took another 11 days to find Collins’ body.
His employer, Lewis Miller of Riverside Construction Co. Inc., did not return the newspaper’s phone call seeking comment, but told The Associated Press late Wednesday that the accident has been hard on everyone, especially the Collins family.
“This is the first time we’ve ever had a fatality and we’ve been unloading rock since the 1960s. To lose someone that young just makes me sick. It’s been something really hard to go through. We’re all saddened by this,” said Miller, who added they have yet to see Young’s report.
Although the police report gave the company’s name as Riverside Aggregating Construction Co., that name does not show up in the Mississippi Secretary of State’s business database. The database does include Riverside Construction Co. Inc. of Vicksburg, with Lewis Miller Jr. as its president and registered agent.
The company’s website states that safety is a priority.
“Riverside Construction provides every employee with the appropriate training, equipment, and other resources necessary to complete assigned tasks in a safe and efficient manner,” according to the website.
Young wrote that he felt the truck should have been taken out of service because of brake fluid leaks on the front and rear axles and a missing brake booster on the center axle.
“We purchased that truck more than two years ago and it was operating and maintained, and as far as I know, it was performing quite well,” Miller said. “We’re very concerned about what happened. We don’t take any of this lightly. We try to keep our maintenance at the highest of standards.”
Young said Miller, as well as an investigator for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and a representative of Rimus Consulting Group, also participated in inspecting the truck’s brake, drive, gear and inside cab door lock assemblies.
Young wrote that Miller said he had recently replaced the inside door latch because the driver said the door was hard to open. Miller also said the driver of the truck, presumably Collins, “never used his seat belt,” according to the report.
Miller said he planned to wait for the OSHA report before coming to a conclusion about the incident. “They’ve been very professional and detailed in the investigation, but it’s likely going to be months before they release a report.”
Stan Collins, Michael Collins’ father, said Wednesday he had no comment on the contents of the police report into his son’s fatal accident.
“As of right now, I am without legal representation, and I’m afraid of making a comment,” Collins said.
The first sentence in this story has been corrected to state that the truck was a dump truck, not a pickup truck. Subsequent references were correct.
Information from: The Vicksburg Post, http://www.vicksburgpost.com