What to Know
- A trucker driving on New Jersey Route 4 in Teaneck earlier this year was hit with a falling slab of concrete from a pedestrian overpass
- The man said the slab pushed a piece of bone into his brain, cost him vision in one eye and left him walking with a cane
- He is suing the New Jersey Department of Transportation
A five-foot-long slab of concrete and rebar cost Earl Eckbert his career -- and nearly his life.
The 55-year-old trucker was making a routine run Jan. 10 from the Bronx to Fairlawn, New Jersey, on New Jersey Route 4 when the massive chunk of a pedestrian overpass in Teaneck came rocketing down, smashing through the windshield of his rig and into his face.
“I’m lucky to be here, alive,” he told the I-Team on Monday.
Eckbert said the next thing he remembered was waking up weeks later in the hospital. The impact sent a shard of bone into his brain, and left him blind in one eye and suffering from memory loss. He also walked with a cane on Monday as he and his attorney Patrick Metz announced they had filed a notice to sue the New Jersey Department of Transportation,
The slab, which Eckbert and Metz said they had collected from the scene, still has a blood stain on the spot where it had hit the 55-year-old. They added that there were more bloody chunks in the cab.
Now, Metz said he is demanding all inspection records from the bridge.
“We all know that our infrastructure are collapsing, especially in New Jersey,” Metz said. “But pieces of concrete aren’t supposed to fly through the windshield and hit you in the face.”
Eckbert says he cannot drive a truck anymore and wants to make sure that no one else ends up disabled -- or worse -- from falling concrete.
“I’m worried this could happen to someone else and they don’t make it out alive,” he said.