Christopher Burgess, the Ravenna dump truck driver who miraculously steered his speeding dump truck through a busy intersection at Portage Trail and Akron-Peninsula Rd. – and a parking lot – without hitting any people, cars or buildings, apparently died of blunt trauma to the neck yesterday.
Summit County Medical Examiner office spokesman Gary Geunther said preliminary autopsy reports show death was probably instantaneous or nearly so.
A brief press release stated: "Shortly after 11 a.m., Mr. Burgess was driving a dump truck down Portage Trail hill, went through a parking lot, then traveled into the Cuyahoga River. Mr. Burgess was pronounced dead at the scene at 2:45 p.m.
Burgess, 41, was praised as a hero for steering the truck through traffic and a busy parking lot after an apparent brake failure on the steep slope of Portage Trail. He swerved left in the parking lot between two buildings at the Valley Centre and struck a tree before plowing over an embankment and into the Cuyahoga River.
The Akron Beacon Journal reported that the Sterling triaxle dump truck was carrying about 15 tons of sand when apparently its air brakes failed.
Signs near the top of the hill on Portage Trail advise drivers to use lower gears when descending the hill. It was unclear whether Burgess was in a lower gear or if the sheer weight of the truck's load pushed it out of control.
Akron Police were not available Friday for details.