Trucker death could have been avoided, distribution center employee says

An accident at a U.S. Postal distribution center in Urbandale, IA, that killed a truck driver could have been prevented, according to an employee at the Des Moines Network Distribution Center where the accident occurred.

Carl Magee, 46, of Pekin, Ill., reportedly was run over by his own tractor-trailer after it slipped out of gear at a loading dock last Thursday. Police said Magee’s rig started to roll north through the center’s parking lot. The truck driver reportedly jumped onto the rig in an attempt to stop it.

Randy Peterson, of the Urbandale police, said Magee then lost his balance, fell and his arm was run over by the truck. The trucker was taken to Iowa Methodist Medical Center, where he later died from complications from surgery, according to a report in the Des Moines Register.

James Aten, safety captain at the distribution center, told the Register that a change in procedure at the facility led to the accident. For years, Aten said, protocol was to have truck drivers park their rigs, and then a yard tractor operator would take the trailer to the dock and back it in for unloading.

However, about 18 months ago, the procedure was changed and truckers were asked to back the trailers into the dock using their own tractors. This is the fourth runaway truck incident at the center since the policy change, Aten said.

Aten said that he and others have complained about the change in policy, but their protests have fallen on deaf ears.

“Everybody in my department knows that it’s foolish and stupid; and we’ve let people know that. But the powers that be are stubborn and think they’re saving a couple minutes,” he said. “I guess they’re weighing trying to save a couple minutes to safety.

“These drivers are coming in off the road driving for 10 hours, and they’re tired,” Aten said. “Instead of parking it, having our operators take it the last 20 yards, they’ve been having (drivers) do that.”

Magee died Friday night of complications after surgery at Iowa Methodist Medical Center to repair his injured arm, his wife, Tammy Magee told the Register.

Magee was a 20-year veteran driver and was contracted with MCA Trucking and not an employee of the postal service.

The distribution center is currently investigating how the incident happened, according Shirley Smith, manager of Safety and Health for the U.S. Postal Hawkeye district office.

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