Family mourns truck driver killed in shopping center crash



GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - The family of a truck driver who died after crashing into a Gwinnett County shopping center on Wednesday says he was the love of their lives.

Donald Samples, 66, crashed into a shopping center on Scenic Highway Wednesday morning, hitting a restaurant and a hair salon, but narrowly avoiding a karate summer camp with 22 children.

Witnesses said they tried to help Samples after the crash, but it was too late. Investigators believe he may have had a medical emergency, causing him to lose control of the truck.

Samples’ daughter Christina McLeod said he had just returned to work after spending a long holiday weekend with his family.

“He was just returning to work like he does every week and this is a really shocking event for all of us and this is a really difficult day,” McLeod said.

McLeod said her father was a Navy veteran who served in Vietnam, but these days enjoyed golf and spending time with his 2-year-old granddaughter.

“He was an excellent father, an excellent friend,” McLeod said.

McLeod said the entire family is struggling with the loss, especially her 2-year-old daughter, Morgan Elizabeth, who will wonder why her grandfather has not come home.

“It’s going to be really difficult for his granddaughter to not know where he is. It’s going to eb a pretty big adjustment,” McCleod said.

Samples had been driving for Werner Enterprises for eight years.

“We are saddened by the loss of life of our driver and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family. We are thankful that no one else was injured in the accident,” Werner Enterprises said in a statement.

Werner Enterprises said it is cooperating fully with the investigation.