Steel beam tears through Vancouver man's truck in Oregon

Tractor-trailer driver uninjured in crash

By Patty Hastings, Columbian breaking news reporter

Published:

Updated: March 5, 2014, 9:39 PM

 
Crash site in Tualatin, Ore.

When Jack Phillips heard the screeching of metal, he ducked down in his tractor-trailer cab and hoped for the best. A massive steel beam tore through the truck, missing the 58-year-old Vancouver man by a few inches.

Phillips said he was driving on Wednesday afternoon in the center lane of Southwest Nyberg Street in Tualatin, Ore., when another tractor-trailer cut him off and clipped Phillips’ truck. Phillips then slammed on his breaks, causing the 30,000-pound load of metal on the bed of his truck to break loose and fall on the roadway.

“I knew what was happening when I heard the metal start crunching,” he said. “I had to put my head down and hope it missed me.”

A crane and another tractor-trailer were called to remove the beams from the roadway, said Jennifer Massey, Tualatin Police Department spokeswoman. Traffic was detoured around the scene of the crash for several hours.

Phillips said he bought the truck in December. He owns a fleet of tractor-trailers that are leased to Vanport Trucking, a company based at the Port of Vancouver. Though insurance will pay for the damaged truck, he said it won’t cover the lost revenue from the load he was planning to take to Tacoma on Wednesday morning.

The driver of the other tractor-trailer, which blew a tire in the collision, stayed on scene and was cited for unsafe passing on the left, Massey said.

Phillips has driven tractor-trailers for about 20 years — accident free, he added. “All the police officers told me I should go buy them lottery tickets,” Phillips said.