On Feb. 22, the web site's daily news featured "Family denied last hours with dad" describing the death of OOIDA member Michael Doty from an aneurysm. Doty was an owner-operator leased to Cannon Express.
Details were provided to Land Line by members of the Doty family and were attributed to them. The article also appears in LL's print edition for March/April.
Land Line attempted to telephone Cannon more than two weeks before deadline to verify certain details and obtain their side of the story, but was unsuccessful. A week after deadline and just hours before the magazine went to press, writer Keith Goble was able to reach Cannon's director of operations, Bill Elliot. A brief comment from Elliot was included in the story. Elliot said "our policy's not to notify family because we don't know what's going on."
Land Line received no further commentary from anyone at Cannon Express until Feb. 27, when LL was contacted by a representative of Cannon Express who stated the company had received many negative comments from drivers as a result of the story on both the LL and OOIDA websites. In a subsequent conversation on Feb. 28, Cannon requested it be afforded the opportunity to respond with its version of the facts relating to this unfortunate incident.
Here is Cannon's version of the events that transpired Jan. 1:
An article was published in Land Line on Feb 22, 2001. The article dealt, regrettably, with the last few hours of life and the death of an owner operator who was contracted to our company and who was a fine representative of our industry. We have received many e-mails with questions and comments about the article from the OOIDA, and after further research felt an obligation to respond. Following is what we know happened on New Year's morning in 2002.
At approximately 1:15 am ET, we received a phone call from Mr. Doty indicating that he was not feeling well. He indicated that he was having stomach and chest pains, and was stopping for the night. Our dispatcher told Mike that he should go to the hospital if he needed to. Mr. Doty indicated that he thought he would be ok with a "couple hours of rest."
At around 2:15 am ET January 1st Cannon Express received a call from someone at the truck stop telling us the driver of truck 4116 was being transported to the hospital. We received a call from the hospital confirming this information at approximately 6:48 am ET. Our dispatcher could hear Mr. Doty in the background reciting his wife's telephone number to the caller who relayed that number to our dispatcher. The caller from the hospital indicated to our dispatcher that Mr. Doty would be "fine." Our dispatcher called the number for Mrs. Doty, but only reached an answering machine. This phone call is on our MCI telephone bill. Our dispatcher is retired from the military and has had to relay bad news to families in the past. His preference would have been to make personal contact, but he decided to leave a message and the hospital's phone number on the family's answering machine. This message was left within minutes of the phone call from the hospital.
After looking at everything we knew and when we knew it, it is fair to say that we could have left a message approximately 4 1/2 hours sooner than we did. During those 4 1/2 hours, no information came to us indicating that Mr. Doty's life was in peril. In fact, everything we knew indicated nothing serious. It is Cannon Express' policy to obtain as much information as possible from the hospital, police, etc. in cases like this in order to relay the most accurate information possible and to avoid unduly alarming our drivers' loved ones. We were unable to obtain confirmation from the time the truck stop called at 2:15 am and the hospital called at approximately 6:48 am. It it clear that we did not delay twelve hours as implied in the article. It is also clear, from our research, that the most accurate information should have been relayed by the hospital.
Unfortunately neither the family nor Cannon Express knew how little time Michael Doty had. The family started the approximately 983 miles or 16 hour drive from Oklahoma to South Carolina. Mr. Doty passed away at approximately 4pm ET while his family was on the road.
The article mentioned that Cannon Express had a truck there to pick up the load two hours after Mr. Doty was taken to the hospital. This is not true. A truck was not dispatched to pick up the load until 9:22am ET well after the family had been called by Cannon Express and the hospital. The truck arrived on location at 12:40pm ET almost twelve hours after Mr. Doty was taken to the hospital.
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