Trucker Finds New Purpose to Hit the Road Again After Tragedy Took Her Husband Last Year
Cambridge, ON – A Canadian trucker is getting back in the truck for the first time since a tragic day last year in order to do her part to implore people to “stay home” amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shelley Uvanile-Hesch has been a company driver for Cambridge, ON-based Sharp Transportation for 16 years.
She drove team with her husband, Chris, for nearly two decades after he quit his job and earned his commercial driver’s license (CDL) so the two of them could spend more time together.
“For 21 years we were never apart, ever,” she told Transportation Nation Network (TNN). “We worked together and played together. We had a relationship that some people only hope they could have.”
The husband and wife team found a home at Sharp Transportation.
“My husband and I had such great respect for Sharp. They were our family. We know everybody’s kids. It’s unlike any other company,” she said.
The couple’s love for the people of Sharp make what happened to Chris all the more difficult.
He was tragically killed in an accident on August 18, 2019, that occurred while he was helping move trailers on Sharp’s yard.
“One minute I was talking to my husband and five minutes later he was dead,” Uvanile-Hesch lamented.
What’s more, the driver involved in the accident was a friend.
“I think a lot of people would have a lot of resentment for the driver involved. I did talk to him after the accident and he was devastated,” she recalled.
Since that day, Uvanile-Hesch has not been back in the truck without her husband.
She has been pouring her time into another cause she feels passionately about.
She is the founder of Women’s Trucking Federation of Canada (WTFC), established in 2015 to encourage and promote opportunities for women within the trucking industry.
Her work with WTFC frequently brings her into contact with governmental leaders and many in the motoring public to help educate them about working conditions for truckers.
However, as she continues to advocate for all truckers, not just women, she says she feels the need to get back in the truck to help during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m a driver at heart. My fellow sisters and brothers of the highway are doing the job during difficult times. I felt like I needed to be out there on the road experiencing what they are experiencing,” she explained.
On Tuesday, she will once again head out on the road, but with a new mission.
She will be hauling a load of hand sanitizer from Ontario to British Columbia.
Not only that, she will be pulling a brand new 53 ft. trailer wrapped with a poignant message for these unprecedented times: “Stay Home, Save Lives.”
“Hopefully, we can reach the public and they can understand to stop gathering in crowds so we can get this COVID-19 under control.”
The idea was brought to her a couple of weeks ago by a friend at Big Rig Wraps Transport Truck Advertising.
Through her contacts at WTFC, Uvanile-Hesch found a sponsor to help with the cost of the wrap, as well as donating to the cause herself, and the vision became a reality.
The design is a tribute to the frontline workers battling the pandemic and a friendly reminder of what is at stake.
According to Shawn Baird, sales manager at Sharp, the carrier provided three brand new trailers for the project.
“We felt as a management team that this is the little part we can do for society,” he said. “It’s just the right thing to do.”
So far the public reaction has been “overwhelming,” Baird said.
Each of the three trailers will be hauled into the United States in the coming days.
“We are a pharmaceutical carrier. Almost everything we haul goes to you guys in the U.S.,” he said.
The team at Sharp is also very proud of Uvanile-Hesch.
“She is a great ambassador for the industry. She’s tenacious, professional and loyal,” Baird gushed.
Uvanile-Hesch says she is excited to get back behind-the-wheel again, and hopes it will be another step in the healing process.
As for the driver involved in the fatal accident, she says she has made peace with him.
“I forgave him. I had to forgive him so he could move on with his life. He didn’t do it deliberately. Never in a million years would he have done it on purpose,” she said.
Those wanting to follow Uvanile-Hesch’s journey can do so via WTFC’s Facebook page where she will be posting regular updates.