CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Every day, Franchetta Ajibola could count on a phone call from her fiance, Daawuud Hakim. But that changed last week when a crash on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel took the tractor-trailer driver’s life.
“Usually he would call me to wake me up, or to give me a little reminder call,” Ajibola said. “He would text or something like that.”
On Thursday, that call would be the last she would ever get from Hakim. The next calls were from worried friends who were growing more concerned after hearing a tractor-trailer plunged off the CBBT.
“I was just praying that it was not him,” Ajibola said. “I was just praying it was not him. It’s just so unbelievable. I said, ‘It can’t be.'”
It wasn’t until the sheriff told Ajibola they had identified his truck in the bay that she realized her fiancee of seven years wasn’t coming home.
“It was earth-shattering,” she said. “I just couldn’t imagine that he would leave home and that would be the end and I wouldn’t see him again. It was very painful.”
Police say the 18-wheeler he was driving hit a maintenance vehicle before crashing through a guardrail and plummeting into the Chesapeake Bay. Bridge officials say 45-year-old Hakim didn’t see the lane closure.
“I think that speaks about the person he had become,” Ajibola said. “Daawuud would sacrifice for friends and even strangers.”
Hakim drove for Big Daddy Drayage as a contract driver. On Saturday, a dive team pulled his body from the wreckage of the truck. On Sunday, they recovered the truck and trailer.
The investigation into the crash continues. Officials with the CBBT tell 10 On Your Side markings on the road lead them to believe Hakim did not hit the brakes before the crash. The guardrail where the crash happened has been fixed.
Hakim’s family is now holding onto memories of him, like the way he brought joy to those he loved.
“Oh my goodness, I’ll miss his smile,” Ajibola said. “He was a joker. I’ll miss that about him. He was a warm and compassionate person.”
A vigil is planned in Hakim’s honor for Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at 801 Broad Street, Portsmouth, Va. 23707. His family has also set up a memorial fund in his name at Navy Federal Credit Union.