Life On The Road
Contest puts shooting victim ‘back on the road’
Donald Turkelson’s life on the road took a horrific turn on March 19, 2002 when he was shot by a masked gunman during a botched hijacking attempt. Turkelson was checking over his big rig in a company drop lot at 1:30 a.m. when the gunman approached from behind and ordered Turkelson into the cab. As the gunman tried to follow Turkelson into the cab, the retired Army lieutenant colonel slammed the door shut. The gunman opened fire and hit Turkelson in the left leg before disappearing back into the darkness.
Meanwhile, the severely injured Turkelson was rushed to the hospital where he underwent surgery followed by several months of intensive physical therapy. The shooting ultimately knocked Turkelson out of his full-time driving job for more than five years, but it didn’t stop his dream to get “back on the road.”
In March, during the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Turkelson’s dream came true when he was named the winner of Arrow’s Back on the Road 2008 Contest, an initiative designed by Arrow Truck Sales to benefit a deserving independent owner-operator in need of a truck and a job. Contestants submitted short stories for this opportunity of a lifetime. After an extensive nomination and interview process, Turkelson and his story stood out.
Along with a 2005 VNL 670 tractor donated by Volvo Trucks North America and a one-year work agreement with Heartland Express, Turkelson received a three-year/ 300,000-mile warranty courtesy of National Truck Protection, insurance provided by the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association and a number of other benefits.
“I’m thrilled, surprised and deeply honored,” Turkelson says. “My goal is to celebrate this opportunity with other drivers and encourage them. You might have had times when you were down and out or in a difficult position, but don’t let that be the end of it. Get back on your feet and get back in the saddle. Not everyone will win a truck, but there are always opportunities to work. To me, it’s a pleasure and a joy to drive a truck.”
During his many years off the road following the shooting, Turkelson, 64, took on several part-time jobs, including serving as a Methodist pastor and truck-driving school instructor, but the resident of Battle Creek, MI says what he really wanted to do was get back on the road full time. “I always wanted to be an owner-operator, but I didn’t think I could afford to be one. Then I heard about this contest and sent my story in.”
Needless to say, Turkelson can’t wait to get back on the road again. “I see this as a vacation, only I’m going to be paid to see this beautiful country of ours,” he says. “I spent 13 years in Germany with the Army, and now I’m getting a chance to see all these wonderful places back home and enjoy the freedoms I helped protect.”