Trucker Dies After Lumber Falls From Forklift


The survivors of a truck driver, Michael Ryckman, who died after he was crushed by a load of plywood at a Connecticut pier in 2003, have received a $1.35 million settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit. The tragedy occurred when Ryckman was picking up a load of plywood for a Washington state trucking company in January 2003. He was to retrieve the load at Logistec’s New London, CT facility and deliver it to New Jersey.

The internal scale on Ryckman’s truck indicated the load exceeded the maximum allowable weight by 7,500 pounds. Logistec management disputed the weight but had no scale of their own to weigh the load. Ryckman then drove to a moving company in Waterford that certified that the weight was 7,500 over the allowed weight. Ryckman then drove his truck back to Logistec and told them to unload the extra weight.

Ryckman family attorney, Robert Reardon, Jr., said that it was 4:00 on a Friday and everyone at Logistec’s was anxious to finish their day, so an employee grabbed the nearest forklift, which was much too small for the job, and it caused the accident.

Logistec employee Scott Barlow, ordered to remove some of the plywood bundles, lifted two of the bundles with the small forklift and began to back away from the truck. He attempted to lower the two bundles, and the rear of the forklift lifted off the ground, causing the plywood to slide forward. When the rear of the forklift slammed back down, the bundles fell off the forklift’s prongs into Ryckman. Ryckman was alive at the scene but later died at a hospital from cardiac pulmonary arrest and blunt trauma to the chest and abdomen.