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Widow raising awareness about sleep apnea among truckers

12/14/2012

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - What started as a simple road trip to Kentucky ended in tragedy. According to expert testimony, it was all because a truck driver, suffering from sleep apnea, caused a deadly crash.

Kentucky natives Wanda and John Lindsay were headed back to the Bluegrass to visit their son and granddaughter. After the crash, the family received a settlement from the trucking company, but Wanda quickly hit the road again, vowing her husband's death wouldn't be in vain.

Traffic backups on the highway---it's something most drivers run into.

In May of 2010, it happened to Wanda Lindsay and her husband John as the two were headed to Carrollton, Kentucky to visit family.

"We just happened to be the last car stopped in a line of construction traffic about three miles long," Wanda remembered.

The couple was on Interstate 30 near Texarkana when a Celadon semi-driver plowed into them.

"He was traveling 65-miles-per-hour with his cruise control engaged," Wanda told WAVE 3 News, "We later discovered he had been diagnosed with severe uncontrolled sleep apnea about two months before the collision."

Wanda was hospitalized with multiple injuries. John, a father of three and grandfather of five was killed.

Considered a first in the trucking industry, Celadon admitted the driver's sleep apnea likely caused the accident that led to John's death. After paying legal fees and hospital bills with a $3.25 million settlement, much of the rest of the money is going into the John Lindsay Foundation.

The family said John was all about helping people, whether it was taking a neighbor to a doctor or fixing that neighbor's lawn mower. So, the goal in John's memory: Waking people up when it comes to the problem of sleep apnea, especially in the trucking industry.

Studies have found as many as 30 to 40 percent of commercial truck drivers have some form of sleep apnea.

"Truck drivers can be treated and drive their equipment safely, " Wanda told us she found from her research. Apparently, more trucking companies are catching on too, like Schneider National. They've found investing in sleep apnea programs pays off, leading to fewer large crashes, a drop in medical costs and an increase in driver retention.

Wanda said, "If we can do anything to keep one family from going through the devastation we've been through, that's what we're going to do."

Wanda is touring the country and speaking with trucking industry officials. She spoke before the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in Washington D.C. in December.