Missing trucker found deceased in his rig

| 8/1/2006

Trucker and OOIDA member Paul Coots, who had been reported missing, was found dead in his truck in the early morning hours Wednesday.

Capt. Steve Ebarb of the San Benito, TX, Police Department confirmed the death for “Land Line Now.” Police had been working with family members and Coot’s motor carrier to find him.

According to family and business associates, the 50-year-old Coots, who lived in San Benito, left Houston in his rig Saturday, and was due in Lexington, KY, Monday morning.

John Stuart of Stuart Transportation, Coots’ carrier, said the trucker’s last confirmed location was around 10 p.m. Saturday in Carthage, TX. Stuart said Coots spoke to his wife at that time.

The trucker was found in Meridian, MS. Stuart and others at the company realized Coots’ cell phone was still active, and encouraged police to use the phone to locate him. Once the police started that process, it took only a few hours to determine the exact location of his rig.

Stuart’s brother took part in the search, driving Coots’ original planned route and checking each truck stop along the way.

Stuart said everyone involved was very grateful for all the help and calls of support from others in the trucking industry.

“The family deeply appreciated all of the kind words and prayers and things that all of the truckers put out,” he said. “I’ll tell you what, we’ve both have been just taken aback with how much help you guys in OOIDA … and how many calls we got.”

“It really solidifies our faith in humanity when people come together like that.”

Stuart and others at the company, a small, family-operated carrier, are looking into the possibility of setting up a trust fund to help Coots’ family with expenses.

An official cause of death has not yet been determined, but Stuart said those close to Coots thought his death was likely the result of natural causes.

– By Mark H. Reddig, host of “Land Line Now”