ZEPHYRHILLS (FOX 13) - A long-distance truck driver from Massachusetts says he never thought a delivery of plywood to a Bay Area Home Depot would end with his unemployment.
But that's what happened this weekend after Tim McCrory gave away a truckload of plywood intended for a Home Depot in Zephyrhills, but was too late to be loaded onto shelves and sold before Hurricane Irma hit.
McCroy says he picked up 15 pallets of plywood on Thursday from South Carolina. He was working for Western Express, a Nashville, Tennessee-based trucking company.
He was set to deliver the load to the Home Depot located on State Road 54 in Zephyrhills. On his way, his truck got a flat tire, forcing him to wait seven hours for a replacement so he could get back underway.
According to McCrory, he finally arrived at his destination around 9 p.m. Friday, but the store had already closed ahead of the storm.
McCroy says a manager told him he couldn't complete his delivery until Tuesday, so he settled in to wait out the storm in his vehicle.
Around 2:30 a.m. Saturday, McCroy says an off-duty police officer came by, searching for plywood. The officer told McCrory he had been working to prepare others for the storm and had not had time to secure his own home until them.
McCrory said that's when he realized there was an urgent need in the area for plywood. Meanwhile, word spread among law-enforcement and first responders - who came in search of plywood. McCroy says they helped off-load his truck and handed plywood out to others in need.
"With the hurricane coming, I couldn't just sit there," he told FOX 13 News.
McCrory says he knew he could lose his job, but also knew he could potentially be helping to save lives.
Western Express, however, says McCroy was not fired for his good deed. The company's CEO, Paul Weick says McCrory left on his own accord.
"I'm glad people got something they needed, but at the same time, you can't have anarchy in the country. You can't have people give away things that are not theirs," Weick said.
Western Express says it will end up paying for the wood, which is worth between $12,000 and $20,000. The company doesn’t plan to investigate further because McCrory is no longer employed there.
"We understand what was probably going through his mind during these extraordinary circumstances, which is why we did not fire him, and have no plans to do so," said Wieck in a statement. "Ideally, he would have let us know he was giving away the plywood, but we understand he was trying to do the right thing, and we'd welcome him back on our team. I've personally tried to contact him several times over the last few days, but have not been able to reach him," said Wieck.
The companies involved are writing off the cost of the plywood, the company said.
McCrory says 960 pieces of plywood had been given out by 6:30 a.m., helping as many as 200 households be secured.
"I was raised to be a family man. It felt wonderful to help as many people as I did," he said.