Saturday, 2:15 PM
Truck driver in Expressway crash blames SUV driver who cut him off
(George Rizer/Globe Staff)
Gravel and dirt spilled out of the overturned truck, covering the highway.
By John R. Ellement, Globe Staff
The driver of the tractor-trailer that flipped on its side Tuesday, shutting down the southbound Southeast Expressway for hours, said today he had one goal in mind once he clambered out of his damaged truck.
"All I wanted to do was to get my hands on the guy that cut in front of me,'' said John C. Michael, 55, of Brockton. ”That was the dumbest thing he had to do. ... It's like wanting to commit suicide just about, pulling in front of a truck just like that. That was so stupid.''
According to Michael and two other eyewitnesses, Michael was driving his truck, which was loaded with gravel and dirt, in the center lane around 7:30 a.m. A marked State Police cruiser with its lights on was with a vehicle in the emergency turnoff area just south of the Exit 12 Neponset Circle offramp. Three drivers in the lefthand lane suddenly slowed down or slammed on their brakes.
At that time, a black Jeep SUV that State Police said was being driven by David E. Baxter, 41, of Boston was in the lefthand lane behind the slowing cars when he suddenly cut in front of Michael and his 1994 Peterbilt tractor-trailer. Baxter was cited by State Police for making an unsafe lane change and failure to use care in stopping.
Michael said Baxter’s SUV hit the right front tire of his truck. The tire found some traction and literally rode up the side of the SUV, causing the truck to become unbalanced and tip over on its right side, blocking the travel lanes and spilling its load on the roadway. The truck also slid along the highway, and its nose slammed into the concrete barriers at the edge of the busy northbound HOV lane, although no one was struck.
"He made a righthand turn right out in front of me. There was nothing I could do at all,'' Michael said. "Nothing. As soon as he made contact with my truck, that's all it took. ... It just rolled right over on me.''
Michael, who said he was wearing a seatbelt, suddenly found himself in the passenger side of the truck with one hand still holding onto the steering wheel helplessly as the vehicle slid towards the HOV concrete barriers.
"All I could see was the Jersey barriers coming right through the window at me,'' he recalled. "It's just unbelievable. ...You swallow your heart.''
Michael said the nose of the truck absorbed the impact with the barriers, helping to keep his injuries relatively minor. He said he has a bruised lung, sore and bruised shoulders, and pain across his body.
He said he was driving the load from a construction site in Allston to a disposal site in Braintree. He said he has been driving trucks for 38 years and was never in a crash until Tuesday.
When he heals, Michael said he will get behind the wheel again.
"What can I do? That's my livelihood,'' he said. "That's what I do for a living. It wasn't my fault.''
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