Truck Driver Entangled in Drive Train while Freeing Seized Brakes

Iowa Case Report: 05IA086
Report Date: July 22, 2010

The following report is the product of our Cooperative State partner and is presented here in its original unedited form from the state. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the individual Cooperative State partner and do not necessarily reflect the views or policy of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.


In December of 2005, a 64-year-old part-time truck operator died when his clothing became entangled in the drivetrain of a semi-truck tractor. Upon discovering that the brakes of the truck were frozen and would not release, the victim crawled under the truck to free the brakes using a hammer and metal rod. The truck had automatic transmission and was left running and in gear without the parking brake set. Once the brakes were released, the drive shaft began turning and the truck moved forward. The movement of the truck caused the victim’s hooded sweatshirt to become entangled in the spinning drive shaft. The sweatshirt tightened around the victim’s neck and chest leading to asphyxiation. First responders cut the victim free from the entanglement and began resuscitation, which was terminated on scene without transporting patient to ER. Upon completion of an autopsy, the Medical Examiner identified the cause of death as “traumatic asphyxia due to chest and neck compression.”

Truck Driver Entangled in Drive Train while Freeing Seized Brakespdf icon [PDF 556 KB]

Page last reviewed: November 18, 2015