CHAZY — Douglas Pilon knows his son, Doug, was laid to rest the way he would have wanted to be.
The 47-year-old former Chazy resident died in a motorcycle accident near Orlando, Fla., on the morning of April 6.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Doug was riding his 2006 Harley-Davidson along Orange Avenue around 3 a.m. when he lost control while turning a corner.
The motorcycle struck a guardrail, throwing him from the vehicle, the Orlando Sentinel reported. He was not wearing a helmet at the time, authorities said, and died at the crash site.
LOVE OF TRUCKS
Doug had moved to Florida in the mid-2000s to work at a branch of Chazy-based Harvey and Co. trucking.
He and his five siblings had spent their childhoods learning to repair and operate semi-trailer trucks while helping their father with his water-transport company.
“He picked up the love of the trucks from that,” his brother Dennis said.
That love would become a lifelong career, with Doug eventually buying a truck of his own. He had recently sold it but had continued to work at a Florida mechanic’s shop.
The last conversation Dennis had with his brother was about trucking. The pair would often call each other with questions about maintenance.
On the day before the accident, Doug called Dennis to thank him for his help with a repair problem. Before hanging up, Doug had asked for advice on one more issue he was having.
“I wasn’t sure, so I said, ‘I’ll check and get the information for you’ and he said, “Alright, I’ll call you back later,’ and the next thing we get a phone call saying that he’d passed,” Dennis said.
Knowing Doug’s passion for trucks, Dennis felt it was only right for his brother’s casket to be brought to his gravesite not in the back of a hearse but in the family’s Mack truck.
Dennis and his father originally planned to put the casket in a trailer. But Heald Funeral Home had concerns about a large trailer moving around the cemetery, and the Pilons were unable to track down a smaller pup trailer.
Dennis suggested they skip the trailer and just place the casket on the back of the truck.
He explained to his father that they could use the adjustable fifth wheel to make enough room to fit the casket.
Mr. Pilon remembered that at the time they originally bought the fifth wheel, people had asked why he had bought a piece of equipment designed for smaller loads when his company usually hauled large water shipments.
“I said, ‘Hey, you never know,’” he said.
Mr. Pilon got the dimensions for the casket and passed them along to Dennis, who spent the night before the funeral building a custom platform to hold it in place.
The next day, the casket was slipped onto the converted tri-axle chassis.
“It fit just like a glove,” Mr. Pilon said, with enough room left for some protective cloth around the edges to prevent any scratching.
With the casket strapped in, the cherry-red Pilon Water Transport & Towing truck rumbled to life with Dennis in the driver’s seat.
After driving his brother’s casket to Sacred Heart Church in Chazy, Dennis stepped out from the truck and had his father drive the rest of the way to the parish cemetery.
The casket was stored there for burial at a later date.
Inscribed on top of the casket was the image of the crucifix, with the dates of Doug’s birth and death.
Hanging above the casket was a single word painted in white cursive font on the back of the tractor: “Heh.”
The short laugh that often ended Doug’s sentences was the catchphrase for his trademark sense of humor.
“I know damn well that he’d be looking down on us and laughing his head off,” Mr. Pilon said, confident his son would have enjoyed the sight of the casket-bearing truck.
Mr. Pilon still remembers his son’s laughter, when he would call late at night to share a joke or funny story he had heard.
“Do you know what time it is?” his father would ask, but Doug would tell the joke anyway, explaining that he would have forgotten it by the next morning.
“That’s what I’ll miss the most about him,” Mr. Pilon said.