Trucker Making a Delivery During Windstorm Killed in “Freak Accident”
Salt Lake City, UT – A freak accident caused by high winds during Tuesday’s windstorm in Utah claimed the life of a trucker from Montana and now his wife is searching for answers.
Donald, 61, and Alissa-Joy Hardy, of Billings, MT, were over-the-road truckers who had sold all of their possessions 15 months ago to drive team across the country.
The couple were drivers for Billings-based Meadow Lark Transport and had just driven to Utah from Tennessee, Alissa-Joy said.
The fatal incident occurred just before 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday at Industrial Injection Diesel Performance, located at 2858 S 300 W in Salt Lake City, where the couple was delivering a load.
Speaking with multiple Utah media outlets, Alissa-Joy recalled her husband’s final moments.
“He went back to close the (trailer) door,” she said in an interview with FOX13.
That’s when a forceful wind gust blew the door into him and struck him in the face.
Hardy, who stood at 6’3″ and 320 lbs., was thrown to the pavement and hit his head.
“He hit the ground so hard, the hearing aide in his right ear is broken,” Alissa-Joy explained. “The ear that never touched the ground, the hearing aide is shattered.”
“He was dead instantly,” Alissa-Joy stated. “His feet were flying like a kite.”
According to Captain Danielle Croyle with South Salt Lake Police (SSLP), Hardy was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead from blunt force trauma to the head.
While Alissa-Joy called the event a “freak accident,” she said it’s one that should never have happened.
“Had they closed down the highway, we would have (stayed) at the truck stop,” Alissa-Joy stated. “We wouldn’t have delivered. The accident wouldn’t have ever happened. Donald would still be alive.”
A spokesperson with the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT), John Gleason, said travel restrictions for high-profile vehicles began around 7 a.m. on Tuesday.
However, the spokesperson conceded “many of the highway signs may not have displayed a warning due to power outages.”
“Shutting down the freeway, it’s a decision that we take very seriously,” Gleason said. “The safety of the traveling public is UDOT’s top priority.”
According to the Utah Highway Patrol (UHP), 45 semis were toppled on Tuesday with four drivers taken to the hospital as a result.
However, Hardy was not counted as one of the four truckers, as his injuries did not take place from a toppled truck.
Hardy is the only known death in Utah from Tuesday’s windstorm.
Alissa-Joy said her husband was retired Navy and wished to have his ashes scattered in the ocean.
She is waiting to receive her husband’s remains so she can travel to Jacksonville, FL to fulfill his final wishes, but does not know what will happen next.
“Now I have no home, no car, no husband,” she said.
However, she takes comfort in knowing her husband is “in a better place.”
“He believed in God,” she said.
Hardy is survived by his wife, three children, and two grandchildren.
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