This driver did not live to tell it … I still remember the sound more than 30 years later

One of the pictures I found yesterday in the folder of my dad’s little anti-noise action, shows a truck that hit the wall of a tunnel. My dad is the guy standing closest by. Yes, the guy wearing a plaid shirt. It must have been 1980 or so. I was about 15 years old. I studied in my room. I do not remember what date it was, but it must have been a week day somewhere around 8 pm. The weather was nice, so I must have worked with an open window. The window was at the back of the house, overlooking a little courtyard.

That’s when I heard that heavy sound. Tires squealing. Brakes screeching. And then a big BANG. Silence. What it was, I did not immediately know. But as a curious youngster, I knew something big had happened. I left my room, joined my dad out the house and onto the main road (that was not that busy yet, those days).

There he was. A truck lying on its side, against the wall of the small tunnel that allowed the E19 traffic (which was then called the E10) to drive onto the R11 in Wilrijk. The truck driver had not foreseen the sharp curve, his truck tumbled, and the cabin hit the wall. The cabin was smashed. The driver was still inside – somewhere. After some time the firemen were able to rescue the guy. I now remember his head hanging very loose from the rest of his body, when they got him out of the steely mess.

He died a bit later. Some days later all that was left of him was a little article in the local newspaper, and a stone in the cemetery.

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