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 LIBERIAN MAN IN OKLAHOMA PLUNGES TO HIS DEATH

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PostSubject: LIBERIAN MAN IN OKLAHOMA PLUNGES TO HIS DEATH   Tue Mar 09, 2010 1:16 am

LIBERIAN MAN IN OKLAHOMA PLUNGES TO HIS DEATH‏







Fund set up for family of man killed at Oklahoma City bridge
TRUCK DRIVER SWERVED TO AVOID OVERTURNED SUV, PLUNGED TO HIS DEATH



BY ROBERT MEDLEY The Oklahoman Published: March 6, 2010

His life ended here last week as he was finishing up a trucking run, less than a mile from home



Joseph Watkins left Liberia to escape civil war, walking for days as he began a voyage that would eventually take him to Oklahoma City. 35.4677 -97.5165

Watkins was among 500,000 people displaced by unrest and brought to the United States by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, said family friend Michelle Jenkins of Oklahoma City.

After a short stay in Connecticut, the family arrived in Oklahoma City in November 2004. Watkins worked a number of jobs before becoming a truck driver. The Watkinses became members of First Christian Church and the congregation helped them obtain an apartment, furniture and a car. Watkins had studied for the ministry in Africa and did some preaching at Grace Missionary Community Church in Oklahoma City.

The wreck happened about 2:40 a.m. Feb. 26 after the 40-year-old swerved his truck to miss an overturned sport utility vehicle on the Belle Isle Bridge on Interstate 44, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol reported. He left behind a wife and five children, ages 18 months to 17.

Watkins was driving the truck at night so he could be with the children during the day while his wife, Celestine, went to Springlake Metro-Tech where she was taking nursing courses, Jenkins said. He was on his way home from St. Louis when the fatal wreck happened.

"He was a family person, real nice and kind,” Celestine Watkins said Friday. "Generous.”

Watkins’ tractor-trailer plunged off the north side of the bridge and landed in a vacant lot below. The load of diapers he was hauling was scattered amid the wreckage some 20 feet below the bridge.

Patrol Capt. Chris West
said the driver of an SUV had lost control and overturned on the bridge shortly before Watkins’ rig approached. The SUV overturned, but the driver was not hurt and left the vehicle to get off the bridge. Watkins had approached the wreck before a wrecker could get to the accident scene.


Jenkins said a fund has been set up at BancFirst to help the children.

"It is a tragedy. ... He and Celestine and all they have been through, working several jobs each at times,” Jenkins said.

She said the family helped support their former church in the Ivory Coast, and were also active in Oklahoma City’s Liberian community. A fund has been set up to help Joseph Watkins’ family. Checks can be made payable to

The Watkins Children and mailed to BancFirst, P.O. Box 26788, Oklahoma City, OK 73126.

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