A truck driver was killed at the Port of Long Beach on September 16th when he was apparently run over by a trailer he had recently unlatched from a tractor.
Long Beach Port Police officers responded to a report of an industrial accident at 700 Pier A Way. Upon their arrival, the officers say, they found the victim down on the asphalt next to a trailer and about 30 feet behind a 2009 Sterling 3-axle tractor.
The Long Beach Fire Department also responded and pronounced the victim dead at the scene. The victim was identified as William Vasquez, a 26-year-old Los Angeles resident. Mr. Vasquez is survived by his mother, father, and three siblings.
Heavy equipment is intrinsically dangerous, and our condolences go out to the family of Mr. Vasquez.
The following Monday, Barbara Maynard, a consultant and self proclaimed expert in crisis management and media relations, expedited a press release from the Dominguez Firm, a law firm specializing in personal injury cases. Her consulting firm exclusively represents labor unions, worker and environmental coalitions, and claims to be working for the independent truck drivers, like Mr. Vasquez, at the Port of Long Beach.
The release called for a press conference where the law firm would demand a fix to the “broken port trucking industry” as well as an explanation of the accident at the marine terminal that took the life of Mr. Vasquez.
On Wednesday the Long Beach police wrapped up their investigation, which revealed that Mr. Vasquez got out of his tractor without setting the emergency brake and without putting it in park. The victim, who police say was on his cell phone at the time, attempted to unlatch the trailer and the trailer slowly began to roll forward, striking him, and then running him over. The Long Beach Police Department says witness statements, evidence and collision data all corroborate the facts in the investigation.
Mr. Vasquez, who worked as an independent contract truck driver for Signal Hill-based California Multimodal, had been a truck driver for about three years, according to his family.
In spite of the findings of the investigation, the family of Mr. Vasquez has retained the Dominguez firm to represent them in lawsuits against the Port of Long Beach and the two companies for whom Mr. Vasquez was working.
The firm’s principal, Attorney Juan Dominguez, whose firm also provides immigration, social security disability and employment law services, says he believes the port trucking industry places a higher priority on commerce than on the safety of workers, and believes this could well be related to the death of Mr. Vasquez.
The Dominguez Firm represents clients throughout Southern California who have been injured in all types of accidents, including workplace accidents under the California workers’ compensation system. Since 1987 the firm has recovered in excess of $400 million for injured clients. One can’t really fault a personal injury lawyer for taking this case. Often the parties sued in these situations, even those without fault, settle rather than go to court.
At press time, Barbara Maynard had not responded to questions about her involvement in this case, other than to issue the press release on behalf of the attorneys, but all signs point to Ms. Maynard using the death of Mr. Vasquez to help further her political goals. Ms. Maynard has made a career out of claiming to represent port workers and truck drivers. It seems that an expert in crisis management and media relations should be able to prove her case without having to rely on the death of her alleged client.