Stopped in the Road – Prompt 05, 28,2013

About 2:00 in the morning on Tuesday last week I was going east from Sandpoint ID to Kalispell MT on Hwy 200, just past Hope ID and before Last Hope Saloon, along the north shore of Lake Pendoreille. I rounded a tight curve (all curves on that road are tight). There was a semi stopped in the road with the flashers on. I was just barely able to get stopped within a foot or two from it. I got my flashlight and tire thumper and cautiously started to walk around to the front of it to see what was wrong. There was a body lying in the middle of the road and a log truck that was headed west sitting there with the door open. There were bullet holes in the windshield and then I saw a body hanging from the cab. The driver of the semi, which was a Safeway truck, was just standing and staring. I tried talking to him but he was in shock. A highway patrolman pulled up just then and called for more help. He had the Safeway driver and I pull around the semi so more emergency vehicles could arrive.

I had to leave as I needed to get to Kalispell with my load of produce for Pacific Fruit and Produce for their a.m. delivery. I was worried I would have to pick up a load of wheat and take a different way home, but as luck would have it I didn’t.

By the time I got back to Last Hope the crime scene was cleared up. I knew a rancher by the name of Jim Brown who lived along the highway just west of there. I decided to stop and see what he had heard. As I pulled into his drive he came out of his barn to talk to me. He knew both of the loggers involved in the shooting. It seems Bill Johnson, the logger in the truck, was having an affair with the wife of Phil Benton, the other logger involved. They both worked for the same outfit so Benton knew about when Johnson would be coming along the road. He just stood in the middle of the road and started shooting when the truck came into sight. He didn’t get out of the way in time and the truck hit and killed him. Maybe he planned it that way…????

Jerry Stapleton

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