Although this incident happened in Montana, USA it is such a compelling story that we thought our readers would find it interesting and informative for forklift operators.
Loren Schauers was working on a bridge rehabilitation project in 2019, aged 19, when he was involved in an incident while driving a forklift truck which had serious consequences for the rest of his life.
On the day of the incident, the bridge was reduced to a single lane, controlled by traffic lights while work was in progress. There were orange water barriers and one of the drivers knocked the water barrier off. Loren was tasked to put the water barrier back in position using a forklift truck. However, cars ignored the traffic lights and started illegally passing him. As one car passed him, Loren veered the forklift truck too close to the edge where the ground was not compacted. The weight of the forklift truck made indentation in the ground, which made the forklift truck tilt upwards and was slowly about to roll over.
As the forklift truck started to topple, Loren unbuckled his seatbelt and tried to jump out. However, the seatbelt ended up wrapping around his legs. He swung out and broke two of his ribs by hitting the floorboard of the forklift truck. Loren had never received any forklift truck training and did not know that the protocol was to stay in the cab with the seatbelt on. Loren said “I now know that to unbuckle the seatbelt and try to jump was wrong idea, but it was just a fight or flight reaction”
The forklift truck fell 50 feet (15.24m) below and landed on Loren’s hips and right forearm. Loren was conscious the whole time. An air ambulance arrived, pulled Loren up the hill on a stretcher and flew him to the local hospital, which did not have the expertise to deal with his injuries and he was flown to Seattle. Loren had lost his right forearm and hand, broken his right collarbone and shoulder, and his lower body had been crushed. He also suffered a blockage in his lung artery (pulmonary embolism) and needed a breathing tube. Loren’s lower body was so badly crushed that he made a brave decision to have everything below his waist amputated, called hemicorperectomy surgery.
After numerous operations and a number of times when he was not expected to make it, Loren was well enough to go home in 4 month instead of 18 months the doctors had predicted he would be in hospital. In September 2022, Loren celebrated the third anniversary since the accident. His girlfriend Sabia Reiche stood by him and they got married in February 2021. He now has a prosthetic arm and is able get around in a wheelchair. They also bought their own home.
Loren Schauers’ courage, bravery and fighting spirit after a serious forklift truck accident has to be applauded when most people would have given up. His story is well documented on social media and YouTube channel.
The key lesson for forklift truck drivers is that the equipment is huge and heavy and training is vital for safe operation.
Wallace School of Transport including Forklift Training in London is a fully accredited RTITB company with over 50 years' experience. You can be trained either at your own work site or at Wallace Centre in Park Royal. If you have any questions, call Wallace Forklift Training on 020 8453 3440, choose option 3 or click here to email us.