A sad tale has been developing in British Columbia over the past week or so. A commercial driver named Alex Fraser of Lumby, B.C., was savagely beaten and left for dead on the side of the Yellowhead Highway near Blue River, B.C., in early October. He suffered a damaged eye socket and three broken bones in his cheek. Fraser, a long-time owner-operator, says his 45-year trucking career is over because of the attack.
The 67-year-old driver told police he had stopped his truck to help what appeared to be two men standing next to a stranded car on the side of the road. According to several reports, Fraser says that when he walked towards the pair, he heard someone shout, "You truckers are all alike!" and was then hit over the head and knocked out by what he says was a third attacker.
He was continually and brutally beaten into unconsciousness and left, bleeding, at roadside. After he awoke, Fraser was able to drive about 20 miles to a truckstop in Blue River, where he received help. He's since undergone reconstructive surgery and is recuperating.
The police are investigating, and that's the extent of what we know at this point. Maybe it's a sign of the times -- or conversely, my faith in human nature -- but I can't help but wonder if there's more to this story than meets the eye.
There was no mention of robbery as a motive for the beating; neither the truck nor its cargo were stolen or damaged. That pretty well deflates the cargo theft theory. Perhaps it might ultimately be proven that some nefarious dealings between Fraser and his assailants led to the beating.
I can't imagine a group of ne'er-do-wells posing as stranded motorists in hopes some passing trucker would stop to help so they could simply beat the crap out of him and go on their way.
On the other hand, we hear about more of this type of senseless violence occurring from time to time.
This is slightly reminiscent of the Jason Rivenburg tragedy in South Carolina. He was robbed of a few dollars and shot dead in his cab while waiting out a delivery appointment in a vacant gas station parking lot. And in some ways, this case is not dissimilar to stories we hear about people tossing objects off of overpasses onto passing cars and trucks.
That kind of activity is beyond stupid, and can be seen only as a deliberate attempt to hurt or maim a perfect stranger. Why anyone would want to do that is completely beyond me.
Thinking back to my time on the road, I can't tell you how many times I had parked in some out-of-the-way spot, opened the windows to enjoy a warm spring breeze and fell off to a deep and peaceful sleep without the racket of a truckstop and rumble of the engine to interrupt my slumber. Trusting soul that I am (or was), I'm probably lucky to be here today. Dodging all the fools in four-wheelers is challenge enough without have to fret over what might happen to you out there while you're sleeping.
I hope Mr. Fraser makes a successful recovery, and I'm saddened by the loss of another veteran drivers from our ranks. I hope too, that the thugs responsible for his misfortune are caught and treated as harshly as the law will allow. But the reporter in me - as a student of the human condition -- still wants to know what the heck really happened up in Blue River, B.C. And more importantly, why.
The BC Truckers Association is offering a $10,000 (Canadian) reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the attackers. Those with information can contact BC Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.