The worker who died following a job-site incident at Druid Hill Park in Baltimore this week was a longtime truck driver in Harford County, his family said.
Calvin M. Stewart Jr., 73, a father of four and grandfather of seven, had worked as a dump truck driver for about 20 years with Jerry Preston Hauling and Material Supply in Jarrettsville, said his son, Jamie Kerins, 28, of Port Deposit. He died from his injuries at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center after the 6:15 a.m. incident Monday at the Druid Tank Project, city officials said.
Provided few details about the fatal incident and wanting to find out what happened, Kerins said he left Shock Trauma and went to the job site, where the Baltimore Department of Public Works is overseeing a years-long, $140 million project to bury part of the 745-acre park’s reservoir in giant underground tanks to comply with federal environmental standards.
Officials at the site said they could not give him details, citing a Maryland Occupational Health and Safety division investigation of the incident, he said.
"They couldn’t release anything,” Kerins said. “They kind of ran me off the job site.”
Baltimore officials declined to release any details about Stewart’s death but confirmed the driver worked for Jerry Preston Hauling, a subcontractor of DN Tanks, which is fabricating the four-story water tanks that will be buried underground. Texas-based Oscar Renda is the general contractor for the project.
Jerry Preston, the hauling company’s owner, said Stewart was a longtime friend as well as an employee.
“It is so surreal for me," Preston said Thursday. “He was a wonderful friend and a great employee.”
Stewart, who worked as trucker for nearly 60 years, was seen as a father figure by many of his fellow drivers, some of whom even called him “Pop,” said Karen Kerins of Port Deposit, his partner of 43 years. The pair had three sons together; Stewart’s eldest child was born from an earlier relationship, she said.
Stewart usually finished arguments by turning around 10 minutes later, already having shrugged off whatever prompted it, she said.
“He could be hardheaded, but he had a big heart," Karen Kerins said. “He’d give you the shirt off his back. If he had $20 in his pocket and somebody said, ‘I need it,’ he’d give it to them. He wouldn’t ask for it back.”
He was born in March 1946 in Delta, Pennsylvania, near the Maryland border, attended Hickory Elementary School before it was desegregated, and spent most of his life in Harford County before moving with his family to Port Deposit in Cecil County about 10 years ago, she said.
Stewart began driving a truck as soon as he got his license at age 16, Karen Kerins said.
At work, Stewart was known as the “gatekeeper” because he would often be the first to arrive at a job site in the morning and one of the last to leave, his son Randy Kerins said. That often meant leaving for work at midnight or 12:30 a.m., he said.
“He would open the yard, make coffee for all his co-workers, and then go on and start his day,” said the 42-year-old Port Deposit resident.
A saying among his fellow truck drivers epitomized Stewart’s hardworking nature: “If Calvin can get one more load, everybody else can get one more load.”
He often would return home exhausted from a long day behind the wheel, drop into a chair in the living room and turn the television up to an ear-splitting volume, Karen Kerins said.
“The TV’s so loud, gee-a-whiz, we can hear it down the street," she said.
Stewart loved his grandchildren and loved to goof around with them, Karen Kerins said.
“He was their Pop-Pop,” she said. “He’d always say, ‘You hungry? Eat this knuckle sandwich!'”
Behind the wheel of Truck JP26, Stewart was well-known among the Jerry Preston drivers and “would run circles around the younger guys,” Jamie Kerins said.
“He’s a legend in the small community,” his son said. “He was a great guy. He was funny. He’d do anything for you."
Stewart was always happy to help out a rookie driver, even if it meant giving them a hard time, said Jose Lozano, 44, who worked with him about three years and now owns a dump-truck company in Columbia.
“He taught me a lot about life. He taught me a lot about business,” Lozano said. “At first, I didn’t know why he was riding me like that. Now I understand why he taught me a lot of this stuff.”
Stewart got haircuts every week at a barber shop in Aberdeen and loved attending car shows and the Maryland State Fair, the Harford County Farm Fair and the Mason-Dixon Fair, his family said.
Stewart loved muscle cars, especially 1950s Chevies, said his youngest son, Casey Kerins, 25, and he visited friends at car dealerships every three or four months, walking their lots, pointing out his favorite vehicles and saying, “I have my eye on this car."
His preference for manual-transmissions, like in his Ford Mustang, was as old-fashioned as his quiet affection, which he often showed more with actions than words, Casey Kerins said.
“He was a good father,” he said.
Plans for a memorial service are incomplete.