Brownsville Herald: Crash survivor to speak with U.S. leaders

In 2015, 4,067 people were killed in large truck crashes in the United States

Brownsville Herald: Crash survivor to speak with U.S. leaders

HARLINGEN — Debra Cruz spends most of her life in her small Harlingen home off Roosevelt Avenue.

She wears sunglasses in her living room to protect her deteriorating eyes and has short-term memory loss.

She takes several prescription medications every day.

She can’t go through metal detectors and keeps her hair cut very short, sometimes short enough to show the scars on the back of her head.

It didn’t used to be that way.

Nine years ago, her life changed.

An accident with an 18-wheeler on her way home left her permanently disabled. But it hasn’t taken away her will. It’s just changed her hopes.

Now, a good portion of her life revolves around doing all she can to make people aware of the devastation accidents can do and to reduce the numbers of these accidents.

“I am grateful and thankful,” Debra said about being alive. “I believe I was put here and survived for a reason.”

One of those reasons may be coming up later this week.

She will be heading to Washington, D.C., Friday to make her plea, again. It’s the second time in three years she has attended what is called “Sorrow to Strength,” a several day event held by the Truck Safety Coalition.

The purpose is to bring awareness to truck safety.

Debra believes she has and can continue to make a difference.

“I look up to Debra,” said Harry Adler, public affairs manager at the Truck Safety Coalition. “I think she is a wonderful representative.”

Adler said Debra, whose trip will be paid for by the Truck Safety Coalition, will be meeting with Congressman Filemon Vela and plans are in the works for her to meet with U.S. Sen. John Cornyn during her visit for Sorrow for Strength. There will be a couple days of workshops and then Debra will go to The Hill to talk with the leaders.

Among the items Debra will speak about include her accident and the situations revolving around it.

“It is always best to get people to tell their story and share it with the lawmakers and the public about what happened to them,” Adler said.

She also will talk about issues regarding truckers, including sleep deprivation, drug and alcohol use as well as proper testing and licensing.

Debra said she was told by her attorneys the driver of the truck that hit her had been in and out of rehabilitation for drug and alcohol abuse, including crystal meth.

“I tell them all this so they know these trucking companies must do better background checks,” Debra said.

Adler said if this was happening in another transportation industry, people would be paying more attention.

“These are not just statistics,” he said about the numbers of deaths and injuries annually in truck accidents. “These are mothers, daughters, fathers and sons.”

An emotional Debra said if she can help make sure this doesn’t happen to one family, her efforts will be worth it and her reason for survival will be clear.

“Debra is passionate about this and really exemplifies the motto for Sorrow for Strength,” Adler said. “She didn’t have to do this, she could have just said, it happened to me and that is it. But, instead, she wants to do what she can so this doesn’t happen to other people. She wants to help others.”

“I look at the way I was before and after — what life was like before,” Debra said. “It gets me a little depressed, but I am still here.”

There are many people in semi-tractor trailer accidents that are no longer here. She said the people she talks to are often amazed she is alive to tell about her ordeal.

She believes there’s a reason for that.

“I still am here and have to talk about it — that’s very important to me,” she said. “If this can help someone else, all that, all the things I have gone through will be worth it. This will all have been worth it if I can make a difference.”

Link: http://www.brownsvilleherald.com/news/valley/article_0050b93e-2a22-11e7-b9fe-13af3e67259e.html

Tuesday, April 25, 2017 10:15 pm | By LISA SEISER Staff Writer Brownsville Herald

2013 Sorrow to Strength Conference

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Links – Sorrow to Strength 2007

SORROW  TO STRENGTH – RELATED LINKS

Useful links for those attending the conference or otherwise supporting it.

Identify & Contact Your Elected Officials

Contact the U.S. Senate

Contact the U.S. House of Representatives

Congress.org

Know the Issues

Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA)

Department of Transportation (DoT)

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

Maps of D.C. and Capitol Hill

Mapquest.com

Accommodations

Hyatt Arlington
Details on reservations coming soon.

Transit

Ronald Reagan National Airport

Washington Dulles International Airport

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro & Bus Transportation)

Press Kit – Sorrow to Strength 2007

2007 SORROW TO STRENGTH CONFERENCE

March 12, 2007 – Press Kit

Sorrow to Strength 2009 – Press

Press Coverage

Press Conference – Media Information

Statements

  • KATHLEEN ELLSBURY, M.D.
    (Seattle, Washington), widow of University of Washington professor and seismologist Anthony Qamar who was killed October 5, 2005, along with his colleague, when an overloaded logging truck with multiple safety citations lost its load on Highway 101.  The tragedy prompted Dr. Ellsbury to lobby for passage of the Tony Qamar and Daniel Johnson Act to improve motor carrier safety in her state.
  • DAWN KING
    (Davisburg, Michigan), whose father, William Badger, was killed December 23, 2004, when a tractor trailer driver fell asleep at the wheel and collided with his car.  Dawn has since joined the Board of Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) and has participated in its First Response program to assist other grieving truck crash victims.
  • FRANK and MARCHELLE WOOD
    (Falls Church, Virginia), whose daughter Dana Wood and her East Carolina University classmate were killed October 15, 2002, when their car was struck and pushed 1,500 feet by a careless trucker with a suspended license who had clocked nine hours of driving that day.
  • TRACY QUINICHETT
    (Laurel, Maryland), mother of University of Maryland senior Channing Quinichett who was killed January 21, 2009, when a tire flew off a truck being towed and smashed through her windshield.   Channing was to receive her early childhood education degree from the state university on May 22.  She wanted to be a teacher.

Sorrow to Strength 2009

The Truck Safety Coalition is pleased to announce our 2009 Sorrow to Strength Conference.

Sorrow to Strength is specifically designed for survivors of truck crashes and families/friends of those who have died or been injured. The conference allows us to come together for a weekend of sharing, remembrance, workshops and public policy actions to advance truck safety. This conference is open to all survivors, advocates, and legal/medical professionals interested in advancing truck safety.

The last Sorrow to Strength Conference in 2007 produced an agenda of important truck safety priorities. It also included visits arranged by TSC staff with key lawmakers in Congress, senior officials with the U.S. Department of Transportation, and National Transportation Safety Board Members. Additionally, we released a report card on the most lethal states for truck crashes and on the lack of federal leadership by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in 10 key categories such as truck driver fatigue, truck size and weight, and safety regulation enforcement, at a well-attended press conference in Washington, DC.

This year’s conference comes at a critical crossroads in truck safety as Congress will soon be taking up a multi-billion dollar transportation spending bill, the successor to the 2005 Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act-A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). Trucking interests have been lobbying Congress to increase the federal truck size and weight limits while also continuing to push for other measures to rollback lifesaving truck safety rules and laws. We need your help and voice in the truck safety debate to counter the views of the trucking industry.

When:
Saturday, May 2nd (tentative start time 1 p.m.) – Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

Where:
Hyatt Arlington, 1325 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA
For reservations, please call the hotel directly at 800-233-1234 or go to http://arlington.hyatt.com.

Cost:
The rate for all nights is $99 per room per night (tax not included). The code you need to mention to get this rate is G-TSC1. There is no fee for the conference itself. Need-based scholarship funding is available to assist with travel costs.

This conference will be organized to discuss both personal experiences and how to work as a powerful, effective constituency. Throughout Sorrow to Strength, you will have the opportunity to meet with safety experts, elected officials, and safety supporters. You play an important role in the fight to improve truck safety and bring down truck crash deaths and injuries. Please, join us for this importantmeeting.

For more information or to answer any questions about Sorrow to Strength, please contact us here or at 1.888.353.4572.

We hope to see you in May!

Sorrow to Strength

2011 Sorrow to Strength Conference

We are pleased to announce the 2011 Sorrow to Strength Conference. The conference will be held in Washington, DC from Saturday, April 30th to Tuesday, May 3rd.

This conference is designed to bring together families and friends of truck crash victims and truck crash survivors.   There is no charge, and the conference is open to all survivors, advocates, and legal/medical/other related professionals interested in truck safety.  The conference provides the opportunity to come together for a weekend of sharing, remembrance, and workshops. On Monday and Tuesday we will bring our messages for improved truck safety policies and laws to Capitol Hill and the Department of Transportation during meetings which will be pre-arranged for you and attended by a Truck Safety Coalition staff person with you.

If you are interested in attending, please call the office at 888.353.4572 or 703.294.6404.  You can also email us at info@trucksafety.org. More information will be posted at www.trucksafety.org in the near future.  Please forward this message along to anyone you believe may be interested.

Please mark these dates on your calendar and start thinking about your arrangements to attend. As soon as you have decided if you will be attending, please let us know so that we can begin lining up meetings for you. We look forward to helping you with this process and especially to seeing you there.

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Press Conference Speakers – Sorrow to Strength 2007

Press Conference Speakers
March 12, 2007

  • John Lannen, Executive Director, The Truck Safety Coalition
  • Jackie Gillan, Vice President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety; CRASH board member.
  • Joan Claybrook, President, Public Citizen; Chair, Citizens for Reliable & Safe Highways (CRASH)
  • Daphne Izer, of Lisbon, Maine, who founded Parents Against Tired Truckers (P.A.T.T.) after her son Jeff, 17, and three of his friends were killed October 10, 1993, by a tractor trailer driver who fell asleep at the wheel.
  • Nikki Hensley of Fostoria, Ohio, whose husband Virgil Lee Hensley was killed July 9, 1997, when a semi-truck driver, who was working for 19 hours straight, ran a stop sign and struck the side of their car, killing her husband instantly.  The truck driver walked away without any punishment when the Wood County Prosecutor dropped the case.  Nikki was left to raise their two sons who are now in college, and she is now a P.A.T.T. board member.
  • Jane Mathis of St. Augustine, Florida, whose son David and bride of five days, Mary, were driving home from their honeymoon on March 25, 2004, on I-95 near the Kennedy Space Center when they were killed in a fiery crash caused by a Winn-Dixie tractor trailer driver who fell asleep at the wheel.  The truck driver was never prosecuted.  David also was the son of Circuit Court Judge Robert Mathis.
  • Rob and Sherry Durk of Linden, Michigan, whose daughter Janelle Ann Marie Durk, 15, was killed July 6, 2006, in a crash caused by two semi tractor trailer drivers on I-70 in Clark County, IL.  One trucker was driving for 20 hours straight and crashed after falling asleep, which caused a traffic backup. The Durks stopped safely, but another semi hit them from behind, killing their teen daughter.  They were driving home to Michigan from a family reunion in Kansas.
  • Truck crash victims from around the nation will be in attendance, including FL, IL, KY, ME, MD, MI, MN, NJ, NM, NC, OH, OK, VA, and TX.

Truck Crash Target Change – Sorrow to Strength 2007

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