Band truck breaks down on way to competition

Posted on October 9, 2015 by Mat Pellegrino

While the Gulf Breeze High School Soundwave Band was tuning their instruments in Daleville, Ala. back on Sept. 26 in anticipation of the Daleville Band Invitational Competition, a crucial piece of equipment was in dire need of a tune up.
The band was 5 miles west of the Defuniak Springs exit on Interstate 10 eastbound at about 3:30 p.m. that day on their way to the competition when the Soundwave Band Truck that carries the band’s uniforms and equipment started to overheat.
“There was actually smoke billowing out from underneath the hood. When that happened, the guy slowed down,” said newly elected president of the Soundwave band boosters Bruce DeMotts, who was driving behind the truck when it caught fire. “We pulled over and they deployed the fire extinguisher at that point.”
The driver of the truck was able to exit the vehicle safely and extinguish the smoke that was coming from the engine bay.
“There was some sparking, and it melted some wiring harness in the process. Apparently there was some oil that was leaking onto the engine block and exhaust manifold. The exhaust manifold is extremely hot, so it ignited that oil. From there it started melting the wiring harness,” DeMotts said.
The band boosters had to drive to Crestview following the truck break down back on Sept. 26, to rent a Uhaul moving truck to haul the equipment to the competition in Alabama.
Quick acting helped save the equipment in the back of the truck, but it’s currently unknown if the 20-year-old truck can be rehabilitated anymore.
According to Jud Crane, Director of Purchasing and Contract Administration, who oversees Durham School Services operations and the school district’s transportation needs, the maintenance department indicated the truck looked as though it overheated.
The booster’s truck has been on its last leg for years, according to DeMotts.
Last year the truck broke down on the way to Robertsdale, Ala. as it crossed the Pensacola Bay Bridge heading west. The truck was able to make it down the road to the Sammy’s Gentleman’s Club parking lot, where it sat before it could be towed back to the school.
The truck is also utilized for other things within the school district and is utilized by other schools.
“The district tags it, they insure it, they maintain it,” DeMotts said.
The truck was towed back to the GBHS Field House following the I-10 mishap. It was then transferred to the repair facility in Navarre.
Crane said the truck is expected to be fixed and could be ready for the road as soon as tonight’s football game.
Despite the numerous issues with the truck, the band booster president said the group has already started eyeing other options.
“The band is going to grow…and it’s estimated to grow more and more,” DeMotts said. “We have such growth, which means we need to haul more equipment, more uniforms…which means we need a bigger truck.”
The current truck was purchased by the band boosters after they raised the funds. But because the GBHS band has grown since the truck’s purchase, the boosters are even eyeing purchasing a used semi-truck bed and paying a semi-truck driver to haul the equipment to games.
“If we go up any heavier for the truck, then we are going to have to go to a semi,” DeMotts said. “Right now we have these men driving these trucks that have experience driving them. But if we go up any bigger, we will need someone with a CDL to drive the truck to events.”
The band boosters put up a donation link on their website ( to help raise money for a new truck.
“That one has been in the garage every summer with a laundry list of everything that is broken on it and has to be looked at,” DeMotts said. “We don’t know if it’s worth saving anymore.”
The band boosters have even eyed the idea of taking donations from local businesses to help fund the truck.
“We thought about taking donations from them and then putting an ad on the back of the new truck….kind of like what we have on the one we have now,” DeMotts said.