Last month, a logging truck drove into Katherine Palmer’s apartment building.
“It was the scariest night of my life,” Palmer said.
It happened on October 24 around
She remembers hearing the explosion of an electrical transformer a split second before the logging truck plowed through the building below her.
“I heard him hit the house and I thought there was an earthquake.”
The single mother said she ran to make sure her five-year-old was okay. Then she looked outside to see that a large transport truck had driven into the flats below hers.
The impact scattered siding and insulation throughout her yard and twisted the frame of the building.
“My neighbor was standing at her door with her two babies screaming,” Palmer said. “They were trapped in their apartment. The door had moved and they couldn’t get out, so I knocked their door down.”
No one was killed that night, but every day since has been a struggle for the 12 people who once lived there.
Palmer says she lost almost everything she owned that night. When daylight came, she was able to get back inside to gather some clothes and find her son’s baby book. She was also able to find her cats and they all moved into her parents’ place.
“The Red Cross showed up the next day,” Palmer said. “There was nothing they could do. The trucking company hasn’t reached out and I got my deposit back from my landlord, but that was it.”
But despite that, Palmer considers himself lucky to have since found a new apartment nearby.
Andrea Munn also feels she has been lucky. When the logging truck hit the building, it drove her living room into the attic. It was her front door that Palmer had to kick down to free her, along with Munn’s husband and two young children.
She said the weeks since the crash have been “day to day”.
“It’s been chaotic,” Munn said. “Chaotic, but OK…in a weird way. I don’t even know how to describe it, honestly.”
She and her family have had to move with her parents-in-law. She has renter’s insurance, but expects it will take a long time to fix the damage and find a place of her own.
“I didn’t expect anything from the trucking company itself or from the landlord’s insurance, because their responsibility is to their building,” Munn said.
She says it has been a challenge to explain to her oldest son that “our house is broken.”
“He’s just … stopped asking to go home because at this point he realizes there’s not our old home to go to, but we’re living with someone else now,” Munn said. “For the most part, I think [the children] feeling really good.”
Munn says most of the help they have received has been from local churches and the Lions Club in Boiestown.
She worries about finding another place to live because of recent rent increases in New Brunswick. She expects them to stay with her in-laws for at least a few months.
“We’re just praying and hoping that God will come through with something for us soon,” Munn said.
Shelby Dorcas was watching television in her ground-floor apartment when her power went out a second before “it felt like a plane crashed.” Pictures bounced off the wall and she says she instinctively covered her face when the logging truck came within a few meters of crashing into her living room.
Although the truck did not end up damaging her apartment, the power surge destroyed everything electronic, including the television she had been watching.
She was forced to move out the next day.
“It’s been hard,” Dorcus said. “It’s a strange thing. You feel lucky to be alive, but at the same time it’s the worst thing ever.”
Dorcas said she was able to get some money for food from the Red Cross, and donations from the churches and the Lions Club have helped. She moved in with her mother for a while before finding a place to rent until spring.
But she fears having to compete for a new apartment.
“I feel like in May it’s just going to be the same again,” Dorcas said.
Insurance claim on the way, says truck owner
When contacted by the CBC, one of the co-owners of the trucking company described the situation as an accident and that they too were having a hard time.
“I wish it didn’t happen,” said Susan Willis, co-owner of JA Willis Contracting, which owned the logging truck. “It was an accident.”
Willis says the truck was destroyed and was “literally in pieces.” An insurance case is underway.
She said she was surprised the driver, an employee of her company, survived the crash.
“It was a very small room, a very small place that he was sitting in,” Willis said.
The logging truck was only pulled from the apartment building last weekend. The structure still stands next to Route 8. Part of it was torn down and the rest has been boarded up.
“I contacted the driver the day it happened and just said I’m glad he was OK,” Dorcas said.
“It’s a traumatic experience for everyone.”