Last August, trucker Wayne Carpenter was headed for his terminal in Durham, NH, to pick up a load when he saw a car veer and smash head-on into an oncoming truck. The two vehicles burst into flames.
The driver of the truck was thrown from the burning mass. As Carpenter raced over to fight the fire, an injured passenger climbed from the car and shouted that the driver was still inside. Without hesitation, he climbed through the flames, trying desperately to free the unconscious driver. Realizing he needed help, Carpenter headed for the highway, stepping in front of a car to get some assistance.
He and another motorist were successful in freeing the unconscious driver from the wreck. The man died later at the scene. But Carpenter's quick thinking and action saved the life of the passenger and the driver of the truck.
On March 25, at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, KY, Carpenter was awarded for his bravery by a group of industry professionals. He was chosen as the 1998 Goodyear North America Highway Hero. He was given a $20,000 U.S. savings bond, and a gold and diamond ring to commemorate the honor. Additionally, his image will be placed in the soon-to-be unveiled Trucker's Hall of Fame.
Carpenter was one of five finalists selected from 12 regional Highway Heroes and 23 state Highway Heroes.
The other finalists were: Christopher Sackos of Palm Bay, FL, the late Jamie Pritchard of Elk Park, NC, and Michael Asselin and Mark Savarie of Ontario, Canada. For their brave deeds, they each received a $5,000 bond, an all-expenses paid trip to the truck show, and a trip to Nashville, TN.