Western Express reported today that contrary to several media reports they did not fire a driver for giving away plywood to anxious Central Florida residents who had been scrambling to prepare for Hurricane Irma.
Media outlets in the U.S. and abroad ran stories this week stating that Western Express driver Tim McCrory reported being fired after giving away a load of sheathing last Saturday which had been destined for a Home Depot store in Zephyrhills, Fla.
McCrory, 27, said he had been en route to delivering the panels last Friday when his truck had a blow-out. He said his trip was delayed seven hours while waiting for a tire change.
Once he was back on the road and reached the Home Depot later that night, McCrory said the store had already closed, according to nydailynews.com. Before hitting the road again, he said he opted to get some sleep in the cab and was awoken around 2:30 a.m. Saturday morning by a local police officer who told him that residents needed the wood to board up their windows.
“I went in it knowing that there was probably a very good chance that I was going to lose my job,” McCrory told wtsp.com (The picture above as well as video posted below shows OSB sheathing–not plywood–being unloaded from McCrory’s truck. However, it’s unclear if plywood had been part of the shipment).
McCrory handed out all of the wood to grateful residents, some of whom told reporters that they had not been able to find plywood anywhere else.
McCrory told reporters that his Western Express supervisor in Nashville told him on Monday that he had lost his job for giving away the material. Residents who heard the news were upset to hear that the Massachusetts resident had lost his job. A woman who received sheathing from McCrory set up a GoFundMe account on his behalf.
On Wednesday, Western Express CEO Paul Wieck said while he did not know for sure if McCrory had been fired, he did point out that the material was not his to give away.
“I understand his heart,” Wieck told wtsp.com “But the plywood belonged to our customer.”
Wieck told wtsp.com that he would confirm whether or not McCrory had been fired and would get back in touch with the station. However, the CBS affiliate said that by Wednesday night, Wieck had not yet called the station and had not responded to follow-up calls.
HWT contacted Western Express Friday morning and received the following response later that afternoon:
Statement – Western Express Did Not Fire Good Samaritan Driver
Contrary to current headlines, Western Express did not fire one of its drivers, Tim McCrory, for giving away a truckload of plywood to a community in the path of Hurricane Irma. In fact, the company has been trying to reach Tim, who quit after the incident, to offer him his job.
“We understand what was probably going through his mind during these extraordinary circumstances, which is why we did not fire him, and have no plans to do so,” said Western Express CEO, Paul Wieck. “Ideally, he would have let us know he was giving away the plywood, but we understand he was trying to do the right thing, and we’d welcome him back on our team. I’ve personally tried to contact him several times over the last few days, but have not been able to reach him.”
The load of plywood involved in this instance was intended for delivery to The Home Depot – carried by Western Express. The truck had a flat tire that took seven hours to be repaired. Therefore, the load missed its delivery appointment. The companies involved are writing off the cost of the plywood.
McCrory was not available for comment. The GoFundMe account established on his behalf was closed Friday morning. The fundraising goal of $2,000 was easily surpassed by the $7,616 raised by 261 people in three days.
Tracy Dillon Drew, one of the Florida residents who received wood from McCrory, started the GoFundMe account. On Friday morning she wrote on the fundraising page:
“I apologize for the delay in this update I know donations have been closed since this morning… Tim has been moving his family today so it has been difficult to reach him. He wanted me to let everyone know he has been overwhelmed by the support, this was never about money. If you would still like to donate in his name, he has asked that you find one of the many other Go Fund Me campaigns raising money to support the Irma relief efforts to donate.”