Another one of our trucking friends has sadly passed away – and this one is especially painful because he was only 30 years old. Dan Williams was a log truck driver in Oregon who died in an accident on October 15, 2014 when his rig left a spur road and crashed into a ravine in the Ochoco National Forest east of Prineville, dumping its load of logs onto the truck. Dan was a well-liked, hard-working young man with a ready smile and quick wit. He will be missed by all who knew him, but none more than his two young daughters, who were the light of his life.
Dan was born in Bend, Oregon on Sept. 4, 1984, to Mike and Dawn Williams. Destined to be a third-generation truck driver, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, Dan was born with trucking in his blood. Dan was a typical kid who loved anything shiny and loud. While growing up, Dan could often be found under his dad’s log truck, watching him do repairs, long before he was ever able to reach the pedals.
Dan was a real go-getter. At just 13 years old, he went to work at Apollo Supply in Redmond, OR stocking shelves. That same year he bought his first truck – an old U-Haul with a flatbed that he used to pick up hay in the fields. At this time he was too young to drive, but
with help from his parents, he had a thriving hay delivery business. At 15 years old, Dan went to work for Avilla Farms in Powell Butte, OR servicing their equipment. He quickly mastered all of the farm equipment, but his passion was still for the trucks.
Studying the driver’s manual, Dan got his farm permit and then quickly earned a seat in a truck and began moving heavy farm equipment from Central Oregon to fields in the Willamette Valley. Dan was always a dedicated worker, and even though he was young, he could still keep up with the more experienced guys, matching their efforts pound for pound and hour for hour.
In high school, Dan and his friend Calder Foss had big plans for their future in trucking. Dan learned
welding and fabrication to help him in that area, while Calder went on to proudly serve his country. The trucking partnership never did happen, but their friendship stayed strong.
Dan eventually became a log truck driver and had a great job, but he wanted to go out on his own. Many thought he was crazy, but he made it work. Out of necessity, he bought a lot of older rigs, but he loved them – and if he wasn’t driving them, he was working on them. His last truck was a nice red A-model Kenworth, which he
loved immensely. One time he stayed up all night, installing straight stacks on his truck, only to find out in the morning that he couldn’t get it out of the shop – the new stacks were too tall!
Dan became a father to his stepdaughter KayliJo and then, later, to his biological daughter Mackenna. These girls were the center of his universe. Dan loved to take the girls with him in the truck and into the woods so they could learn about the world of forest management. It’s amazing how well those car seats fit in the jump seat of a log truck! Unfortunately, Dan’s life came to a sudden and tragic end on October 15, 2014 when he lost his life in a log truck accident near Prineville, OR doing what he loved the most.
In honor of their fallen friend, 120 trucks paraded from Redmond, OR to Prineville, OR where a celebration of Dan’s life was held at the Crook County Fairgrounds on October 25. Dan’s longtime friend, Calder Foss, led the convoy (with Dan’s remains) in his Peterbilt 359 numbered classic, followed by honorary casket bearers Gus Hulstein, JR Johnson, Jake Taylor, Ty McFarlane, Ashanti “Tall” Samuals, Chris Aichle and Shaine Hartman. People lined the highways and streets along the 35-mile route, especially in downtown Prineville. Everyone waved at the trucks as they slowly rolled by, and one man, with a pony-tail, stood at attention with his hat over his heart until the very last truck passed – what an honor.
Throughout the day, Dan’s family and friends talked repeatedly about how he was always happy and smiling… no matter what, and that he was always ready and willing to help anyone with anything… no matter what. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire family and everyone else who loved him. Rest in Peace, Dan Williams, and truck ‘em easy up there in heaven.