Veteran driver, 63, dies after fall from tanker

| Friday, January 14, 2011

A veteran truck driver died Wednesday after falling from the top of a tanker.

Larry Hughes, 63, of Carson, CA, was offloading at a WhiteWave Foods packaging facility Wednesday morning when he slipped from a ladder and fell to the ground. He died immediately.

Several governmental agencies, including the Los Angeles County Coroner?s Office, and Cal-OSHA, were investigating the incident as of Friday.

?We were told that the driver was coming down the ladder of a tanker truck,? said Cal-OSHA Spokeswoman Krisann Chasarik, ?and that he slipped on the top rung and fell onto the asphalt.?

Larry, an Air Force veteran with nearly 40 years of driving experience, was an owner-operator for the last 32 years. He died one day before his 64th birthday. Friends and loved ones reached Friday were quick to point to the way Larry lived.

?Basically ? the truck was his life for the last 32 years,? said Sharon Hughes, Larry?s widow.

Larry worked hard to build a profitable business. He meticulously maintained his trucks and was prudent. Through his work, Larry was able to pay off his home mortgage and put his daughter, Carla, through college.

A friend of the family said Larry was a character.

?His handle was ?Scale-Dodger,?? said Gordon Stewart, OOIDA member from Lomita, CA.  ?He spoke what he thought. If it bothered or irritated you, well??

Gordon said the handle came from Larry?s habit of dodging bathroom scales, not truck scales.

Gordon, whose parents were Larry?s neighbors in Carson for many years, once helped Larry replace an engine for Larry?s old Freightliner cabover in five days.  

The pair accomplished the feat with nothing but Craftsman hand tools, Gordon said.

?You always admired him for what he did,? Gordon said. ?His objective was to help his kid through college ? and he did that.?

By state statute, Cal-OSHA has six months after a fatality to complete an investigation, Chasarik told Land Line, though the agency typically completes reports in three to fourth months, she said.

Sharon Hughes told Land Line Magazine she sometimes worried about Larry?s safety, but she knew he was careful and consistent in his job and his life.

?He had been in hazmat for 32 years,? Sharon said. ?He knew what to do and what not to do.?