'American Trucker' TV Show To Feature USA Truck Storm Aid
Jul 14, 2011 (Times Record - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
The delivery of disaster relief supplies to tornado victims by a local trucking company is being showcased on the second season premiere of "American Trucker," a program on the SPEED Channel.
The program airs locally at 9 p.m. today on Cox Cable (Channels 60 and 2060 HD), Dish Network (Channel 150 HD) and DirecTV (Channel 607 HD).
The 30-minute segment features the June 3 delivery of relief supplies to Joplin, Mo., in the wake of the May 22 tornado that killed an estimated 150 people and carved a six-mile path of destruction through a populated area of the town.
The supplies were collected at Van Buren's First Baptist Church and loaded on a trailer owned by USA Truck.
Jeremy Scott, USA Truck marketing supervisor, said producers of the program contacted the Van Buren company looking for a story on the relief efforts. Their search led to USA Truck, which Scott said has over the past year stepped up its emphasis on answering the call to people and communities in need.
He said in recent months the company has donated transportation of relief items to communities in Alabama stricken by tornadoes and to residents injured and left homeless by violent weather in nearby Franklin and Johnson counties.
Coverage of the Joplin devastation is a departure for "American Trucker," a program in which host Robb Mariani, a celebrated designer and self-described "fanatical truck expert," crosses the country to explore the machines, routes and incredible people that are a part of the American long-haul trucking industry.
The program, a production of Brentwood Communications International, launched its 13-episode first season in March.
Scott said film crews shot footage at the supply collection site and at USA Truck's terminal in the Van Buren Industrial Park, where they talked to workers and interviewed company President and CEO Cliff Beckham.
The crew accompanied USA Truck personnel to Joplin to film the delivery of supplies.
Ken Vosejpka with USA Truck, was driver on the trip and will likely be featured on the program. An employee in his fifth year with the company, Vosejpka has recently accepted a position as safety coordinator for West Coast operations, and works out of USA Truck's Phoenix Terminal.
"It was a huge honor that my company asked me to be the driver, representing the drivers of the company and to be the face that goes with the company's name," Vosejpka said.
A 25-year Marine veteran, Vosejpka said the scene at Joplin "was worse than any war zone I've seen."
Beyond the enormity of the destruction, he said he was impressed with the degree of selflessness in those responding to a call for help from throughout the country. He said the generosity of Van Buren and Fort Smith residents who filled the truck was also "beyond belief."
Vosejpka said he has taken some ribbing from co-workers, who have taken to calling him "Hollywood" for his role in the program.
However, Vosejpka said he may have to wait awhile to see himself on TV. He said he has not had a chance to get cable service and access to SPEED TV since his relocation to Phoenix.
"I'm sure someone will see that I get a copy of it," he said.
In a news release from SPEED TV announcing the program, Mariani said the degree of damage stunned him.
He said upon entering the city limits, damage seemed minimal, but gradually increased.
As crew members were prepared to conclude the destruction was not that bad, "all of a sudden, you turned down toward a street and it was like somebody flipped a switch and hit the destruct button."
Mariani said viewing the disaster site "really put a perspective on how fragile we all are."
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