Bridge mishap continues to haunt truck driver

November 3, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
One week ago, the Bay Bridge shut down after an emergency repair job from Labor Day weekend fell apart. Three vehicles were struck that night by falling steel, including a San Mateo man who is still having nightmares from the ordeal.

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"The cable hit me. They break my windshield. They break my GPS," said driver Jose Villalobos.

The evening of October 27 continues to haunt Villalobos. He was behind the wheel of a Ryder truck when a steel bracket and a pair of tie rods came crashing down on the Bay Bridge.

Villalobos suffered only minor cuts when the tie rod hit his windshield, but the accident has taken an emotional toll. Every night he has nightmares.

"I cannot sleep because I remember everything," he said. "It's like a dream. I wake up shaking all the time."

Villalobos is a father of four who makes a living driving trucks for classic party rentals in Burlingame. He was delivering table linens when the accident happened.

He is well aware he could have been killed that night, but during those few critical moments he knew he had to concentrate on staying in his lane.

"If I change the lane, I know it's going to be too many accidents because I would hit another car -- too many," he said. "I was thinking, you know, people driving with kids."

Caltrans reopened the bridge Monday. Like many Bay Area drivers, Villalobos does not have full confidence in the repair job, but he drove across it Tuesday.

"It's part of my job so I have to do it. I have to support my family," he said.

Villalobos can only hope his nightmares will go away. Yet despite having sleepless nights, he is thankful he lived to tell his story.

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