Last Ride Home returns fallen trucker to his family

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | 4/30/2014

Somewhere on a Midwestern highway today, truck driver Ralph Wayne Maness is on his Last Ride Home. Maness died in a crash April 18 in Illinois. On Tuesday, April 30, trucker volunteers from Trucker Charity have arranged to take their fellow trucker from Rochelle, Ill., to Dallas, Texas, for a memorial service on May 3.
Less than two weeks ago, Maness was on Interstate 39 in Ogle County, Ill., when he was in a crash that involved three semitrailers, including the one he was driving. That truck burst into flames as a result of the crash. Maness died at the scene.

A truck driver for 26 years, Maness had an accident-free career before the crash. He was a driver for Marten Transport.

His wife, Taylor, reached out to Trucker Charity shortly after his death.

Taylor and Ralph were married earlier this year in January. Maness had six children, two of whom are under the age of 8. He also had three grandchildren.

According to Trucker Charity, Marten Transport has paid for the cost of the cremation and funeral. As part of their Last Ride Home program, Trucker Charity Inc. will pick up the remains and return them to his home and family.

Isaac Bland, an OOIDA member from Summerfield, Ill., is driving the Trucker Charity truck. Bland says losing a truck driver on the road can be hard on a family, both emotionally and financially and that Last Ride Home is a volunteer service that helps reduce some of the burden on the family. According to Bland, this is the second time this year Trucker Charity’s Last Ride Home program has been used.

Bland told Land Line that Trucker Charity will place an 18”x24” plaque on the back of their trailer, where it will remain for the entirety of the journey to Maness’ hometown. The plaque includes Maness’ name, date of birth, date of death, “Last Ride Home” and the words “Fallen brother going home.” Along with the plaque, an American flag folded military-style will be presented to the family.

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