A Missouri truck driver who was severely beaten at a gas station in Fort Hall last month says he may never be able to drive a commercial vehicle again, adding that he doesn’t think the Fort Hall Police Department is taking the incident seriously.
Amos Phillips, of Camdenton, Missouri, was sleeping in the cab of his semi, which was parked at the TP Truck Stop near Interstate 15 in Fort Hall, when a large Native American man broke into his locked vehicle and attacked him, he says.
Phillips was hospitalized after the attack and suffered a broken nose, broken cheekbones and a blood clot on his brain.
“Externally I’m fine. but from the beating I may never be able to go back to driving,” Phillips told the Journal during a Friday phone interview. “I have a hematoma, or blood clot, on the brain, and they have me on some very serious medications. Because of that I can’t drive commercially.”
Phillips says doctors have told him that the blood clot between two lobes in his brain could have lasting effects on his health. Phillips says the clot has affected the entire left side of his body and his equilibrium. At this point, doctors have told him that he may be on medication for life.
“I can’t stand for much more than 20 or 25 minutes at a time without feeling woozy and wobbly,” Phillips said. “And the drugs make me really tired. I don’t have the energy to do anything.”
Phillips is one of five drivers for JWE Inc, a small trucking outfit in Camdenton. After several long hours on the road, Phillips stopped at the truck stop in Fort Hall to reset. He played blackjack in the nearby casino before eating dinner and retiring to his truck to listen to the radio and fall asleep.
He awoke in the early hours of Sept. 3 to find a man had broken into his truck and was standing over him demanding money. When Phillips told the man he had none, he said the man began to beat him. Phillips says the man was wielding rocks in both hands during the attack.
Phillips was hospitalized at Portneuf Medical Center for three days immediately after the attack. Upon returning home to Camdenton, Phillips was hospitalized again for another four days in a hospital in Osage Beach, Missouri, because of complications stemming from the attack.
With a wife and two children at home, Phillips said being out of work has been tremendously difficult. Truck driving is the only profession he’s ever really known. Without it, he is unsure how he will be able to provide for his family in the future.
“The help from my boss and family have been beyond excellent,” Phillips said.
More than six weeks after the attack, the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes said in a statement that the incident was under investigation by the Fort Hall Police Department and the FBI.
Sandra Barker, a public affairs specialist for the FBI’s Salt Lake City Division, told the Journal on Friday that the FBI is investigating the case but could not comment on specifics because the probe is ongoing.
Fort Hall Police Chief Pat Teton said police took a baseball cap, apparently left behind by the suspect, and have sent it to the Idaho State Lab for testing. He said fingerprints left at the scene appear to be smudged, according to the press statement.
The tribes, the Fort Hall Casino and the parent company of the truck stop, Tribal Enterprises, will collaborate to improve lighting, surveillance equipment and security in all areas of the truck stop, according to the press release.
“Safety is a top priority, and we will always do what we can to improve our customer safety,” Charlie Jim, retail operations manager with Tribal Enterprises, said in the press release.
Jim said security staff and managers with the truck stop shared statements and video surveillance with Fort Hall Police, but the video was “of poor quality and neither age nor race of the suspect could be determined from the video.” He said police also checked security cameras from the nearby casino but found no footage of the incident. There were no witnesses, he said.
Randy’l Teton, spokesperson for the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, told the Journal on Friday that they have no suspects in the case and there have been no leads. Randy’l Teton said police have not received the DNA analysis of the hat left behind at the scene.
When asked if he thinks justice will be served in the case, Phillips said much of that depends on how aggressively the Fort Hall Police Department investigates the incident.
“I really don’t think they are doing their jobs,” Phillips said.
In addition to being out of work, Phillips also didn’t have health insurance and has several medical bills to pay.
To offer some relief for Phillips, the owner of JWE Inc., John Williams, created an online fundraiser accessible by visiting bit.ly/2z5D2Pr. As of Friday afternoon, a total of $4,130 has been raised including five donations of more than $500.
Williams said that he is offering a $1,000 cash reward to anyone who provides information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the man responsible for the attack.
If Phillips is ever able to drive trucks again he says he will do so carrying a firearm. And although he hopes the man who attacked him is found by law enforcement, Phillips says the man will one day have to answer to a higher power.
“This gentleman that did this needs to make his peace with God,” Phillips said. “What he did is not one bit right.”