DAPHNE AND STEVE IZER sit at the table in the room that served as the office of Parents Against Tired Truckers for eight years. Today, marks the 20th anniversary of the day the Lisbon couple’s son was killed by a tired truck driver. The photo they are holding shows Jeff Izer and his girlfriend Angie Dubuc, who were 17 and 16, respectively, on Oct. 10, 1993, the night they and two other teens were hit and killed by a tractor trailer truck. The driver had fallen asleep and falsified his log book.

DAPHNE AND STEVE IZER sit at the table in the room that served as the office of Parents Against Tired Truckers for eight years. Today, marks the 20th anniversary of the day the Lisbon couple’s son was killed by a tired truck driver. The photo they are holding shows Jeff Izer and his girlfriend Angie Dubuc, who were 17 and 16, respectively, on Oct. 10, 1993, the night they and two other teens were hit and killed by a tractor trailer truck. The driver had fallen asleep and falsified his log book.

LISBON

Twenty years ago today, Daphne and Steve

Izer answered a knock on the door from a state trooper and local police officer.

There was a bad crash on the Maine Turnpike; their son was involved.

“There was four of them killed and one survivor,” Daphne Izer recalled.

The couple remembers the night clearly, a memory that recurs.

Steve Izer said “it just pops up,” at times.

“It happened at 8:26 p.m. on a Sunday night and oftentimes I’ll look at the clock and it’s 8:26,” Daphne Izer said.

It was Columbus Day weekend. Their son Jeff, 17, was on his way with four other teens to a haunted hayride in Gorham and pulled to the side of the road due to car problems.

He and three passengers were killed and a fourth badly injured when an 80,000-pound tractor trailer truck ran them over.

Jeff was a student at Lisbon High School and the others were students at Lewiston High School: Angie Dubuc, 16; Dawn Marie Welding, 15; and Katie Leighton, who was only 14.

The parents learned the driver of the Wal- Mart truck had fallen asleep.

In May 1994, they formed Parents Against Tired Truckers to prevent such tragedies from happening to other families.

Daphne Izer said her son did what he should have: He was out of the road and had his lights on but “it was four days before we knew that, because the truck driver had said Jeff was parked partially in the travel lane.”

“And then for four days we believed him until it came out in the news that the truck driver had fallen asleep at the wheel. It said he fell asleep at the wheel and he falsified his log book. We didn’t even have a clue about log books.”

Falsifying log books is common in the trucking industry, Daphne Izer said, “and that’s one of the things we’re working on is to get electronic onboard recorders to replace paper log books.”

A law to that effect has already been passed and many trucks are already equipped with the devices, she said.

The couple points to this as a major success. In 2002, combined with Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways, the group formed the Truck Safety Coalition that now works out of Washington, D.C. and has an executive director to run its operations.

The Izers’ grassroots organization has been behind implementation of a number of state laws but much of what they do is at the federal level.

Steve Izer said the log book of the truck driver who hit their son said he was sleeping in New Hampshire at the same time a toll ticket in his pocket proved he was actually on a bridge in New York state.

In December 1993, a grand jury declined to indict the truck driver, Daphne Izer said, “so he was off the hook for the deaths.”

“He got charged for (the) false log book for which he went to jail,” she said. “Normally they mail in a fine but because we kept it in the news and kicked up such a fuss, he did go to jail.

“We got families here in December and said, ‘If anybody’s going to do anything about this, we have to. Nobody else is going to,’” Daphne said. “Some of the trucking companies go by the book, but in too many cases they have to get loads delivered at any cost, and sometimes that cost is human lives.”

Steve said union drivers are paid by the hour and independent drivers by the load, and everyone else gets paid by the mile, “so there’s an incentive almost to drive further faster.”

Initially, the members of PATT were against truck drivers, Daphne Izer said, but “we became a voice for truck drivers.”

The Izers ran PATT out of their home for the first eight years before the donationfunded organization moved to Washington, D.C.

Daphne Izer said it became “national very quickly because it’s a national problem.”

Whether the couple gets called to meet with the U.S. secretary of Transportation or testify before Congress, “We do it at a moment’s notice because we feel it’s that important.”

The two used to do it all, and both kept jobs somehow.

Daphne dropped to three days a week as a school nurse and then put nearly 60 hours a week into PATT.

The Izers have worked to the point of exhaustion in an effort to save lives — “and we don’t know whose but we know they’re out there,” she said — and honor their own son’s life.

“This was our way I think of dealing with it,” Daphne Izer said. “Our son, Jeff, was very helpful and wanted to help people all the time. We didn’t want other parents going through what we went through and are still going through.”

PATT works to protect improvements and prevent exemptions to the hours-ofservice rule for truck drivers; advocating for required sleep apnea screening for truck drivers as well as for screening of prescription drugs that cause fatigue; and is still seeking changes to truck driver compensation so truck drivers are paid for every hour worked.

Sometimes it feels like 20 years, they said; sometimes it doesn’t.

A picture of Jeff and his girlfriend Angie Dubuc, who was also killed in the crash, sat at a table behind Daphne within arms reach.

“I think because it’s such a milestone and we’re getting older … it’s emotional,” Daphne said. “It just seems worse this year,” she said, looking at her husband.

To learn more about the Truck Safety Coalition and hear Daphne Izer speak, visit http://www.trucksafety.org/the-20th-anniversaryof p-a-t-t.html.

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