Beloved Trucker’s Death in Tragic Accident Prompts Outpouring of Support
Bristol Township, PA – The trucking community is stepping up to support the family of a trucker who was tragically killed in a crash along the Pennsylvania Turnpike last week.
As Transportation Nation Network (TNN) reported, 49-year-old Charles Edward Hopper Jr., of Girard, OH, perished during the early morning hours of April 24, 2021, in a single vehicle crash along the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
Hopper was driving a yellow 2015 Freightliner — owned by Estes Express Lines — pulling tandem trailers and traveling eastbound, when at approximately 1:30 a.m., it drifted into the guardrail and plunged 40 feet below.
He was pinned in the wreckage and later declared dead at the scene.
At the time of his death, Hopper had been a professional driver for 20 years.
Read TNN’s original report of the incident HERE.
Following his passing, Hopper’s family contacted the well-known trucker charity, TruckersFinalMile.org (TFM), requesting help to get their loved one home to Ohio.
Founder of TFM, Robert Palm — who is also an over-the-road trucker — told TNN the organization was contacted early Monday morning regarding Hopper.
Palm stated TFM got to work right away on its verification process.
By the time Hopper’s family had contacted TFM, Palm said Estes “had already assisted in getting his personal property and vehicle back [to the family] from the terminal.”
“One step in our process is contacting the (trucker’s) company,” Palm explained. “We reach out to every company to ask if they want to make a donation (to help with costs) in the driver’s name.”
In addition, TFM sets up a personalized fundraising link for each driver and family.
“Each request is very different,” Palm stated, but said the average cost of getting a driver home is between $1,800-2,600.
Hopper’s fundraising link on TFM generated a couple hundred dollars fairly quickly, while a personal GoFundMe set up by Hopper’s family has raised $4,495 as of publishing.
However, when Palm made contact with an executive at Estes around 2 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon, he was immediately informed the company would be taking care of all the expenses to get Hopper home.
“They were very cordial, very professional, and just said, ‘We’ve got this, thank you so much,'” Palm recalled.
“The passing of Charles Hopper is a tragic loss for his family, friends and Estes colleagues,” Tracy Hughes, vice president of compliance, benefits and spend management at Estes, told TNN. “We wouldn’t be the company we are today without our drivers, and Charles’ death is felt by us all.”
Hughes said upon hearing of his passing, there was “no question” Estes would support his family during this difficult time.
In fact, many of the personal donations on the family’s GoFundMe have been made by Estes employees.
In addition to getting him home, Estes is also making a “significant contribution” to the cost of his funeral and burial services.
“His beneficiary will also receive the benefits of his company-paid life insurance,” Hughes informed. “Our prayers continue to be with his family, and we hope our assistance can be a source of comfort as they say goodbye to a beloved man.”
“There are a lot of companies that do a lot of great things for a lot of drivers,” Palm stated to TNN, referring directly to the contribution Estes made to the Hopper family.
However, TFM vows to “fill the gap” when companies don’t step up like Estes did.
Once the Hopper family was notified Estes was going to take care of costs to get him home, the family elected to re-gift the raised funds in Hopper’s name to TFM’s general fund in order to help other drivers and families facing the same heartbreak.
Palm said so far in 2021, TFM has helped 19 drivers.
The organization will be celebrating its eighth year of service next month.