highwaySTAR columnist dies in truck crash

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TORONTO — Our friend Victor Goertzen, former columnist to Today’s Trucking sister magazine highwaySTAR, is no longer with us. Vic died at around 2:00 a.m. July 29 on an empty stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway about 10 km west of Moosomin, Sask.

He’d been heading west, when another oncoming truck lost control and swerved into his lane. The impact sheared the cab clean off of Vic’s truck, leaving it cracked open like an egg along the side of the highway. He was 44.

“He was such an amazing man,” his girlfriend of three years, Charisse Rempel, told the Ottawa Citizen. “I am absolutely, terrifically devastated.”

Vic Goertzen penned 30 columns for highwaySTAR
under the banner A Twist of Freight.

Rempel was talking to Vic on the phone at the time of the accident. After the phone went dead, she called Vic’s number again and sent him text messages but did not receive a response.

Two people in the other truck were not seriously hurt.

Vic, who lived in Winnipeg, was a complicated guy who took to trucking like a dog to a bone. It’s more than a little ironic that one thing that Vic often called his “ticket” would come to claim his life.

I first met Vic in April 2004. He had just graduated from a truck driver training program run by the Manitoba Trucking Industry Education Council, and was writing to express concern that the program appeared to be on the verge of closing. Vic’s issue was that the program had given him a new lease on life, and be believed that more people like him wouldn’t be able to benefit from the program the way he had.

Vic openly admitted to having a problem with authority, and that had caused him some difficulty over the years. He had often said that trucking provided an environment where the personal discipline he needed could be developed without the stultifying presence of a supervisor standing there waiting for him to screw up. He was learning to look after himself, and by most accounts was doing a good job of pulling it all together after a couple of years on the road.

Vic penned 30 columns for highwaySTAR under the banner, A Twist of Freight, beginning in May 2004. In his words, you could read his love for the road, his unending curiosity with life, an unrepentant challenge of convention, and utter devotion to his sons.

He was difficult to edit at times, but always a pleasure to read because you never knew what was coming next. There were many stories in him yet to be told, and he often told me that his dream was to publish a volume of poetry.

Vic was cut off too soon, like many interesting writers. The words of Harry Chapin, who also died too young, come to mind: “Youth isn’t a handicap; it’s what makes you thirsty.”

Throw the logbook out the window, Vic, and enjoy the next part of the trip. Farewell my friend.

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Jim Park was a CDL driver and owner-operator from 1978 until 1998, when he began his second career as a trucking journalist. During that career transition, he hosted an overnight radio show on a Hamilton, Ontario radio station and later went on to anchor the trucking news in SiriusXM's Road Dog Trucking channel. Jim is a regular contributor to Today's Trucking and Trucknews.com, and produces Focus On and On the Spot test drive videos.

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