An owner-operator from Gladstone, OR, is the 27th Goodyear North America Highway Hero.
Junichi Shimizu helped save the lives of three people involved in a fiery traffic accident, including one driver who was trapped in his burning vehicle.
On Feb. 20, 2009, Shimizu, driving for Chipman Relocations, was westbound on Highway 12 near Fairfield, CA, and witnessed a vehicle cross the centerline of the road and strike an automobile in front of his truck. The auto spun into the ditch, and the other vehicle then hit his tractor twice before bursting into flames.
Upon coming to a stop, Shimizu called for assistance and then headed to the vehicle that was in flames. Unable to open the driver’s side door because of the damage, he told the driver to protect his face and he punched out the glass in order to pull the driver free of the car. With help from another motorist, he was able to free the driver’s foot, then carry the driver to safety.
Running to the other car, he quickly assessed that the driver was deceased, but there were two injured passengers inside. The passengers were removed, and Shimizu retrieved his fire extinguisher to keep the blaze under control until the fire department arrived.
George Lantzy, of Turtle Creek, PA, is a driver for Fubar Trucking. As Lantzy drove his tractor-trailer on Route 22 outside of Weirton, WV, last year, he noticed a car along the highway’s shoulder that was slowly drifting into traffic. As he drove closer, he saw an elderly woman slumped over the steering wheel. Lantzy maneuvered his rig alongside the car, and drove in front, creating a roadblock. Once he was able to force the out-of-control car to a standstill, police and paramedics arrived. The driver, who had suffered a heart attack, was transported to a nearby hospital where she made a full recovery following surgery.
Stephen Page, of Gloucester, MA, is an owner-operator leased to Pit Bull Trucking. On July 14, 2009, Page was driving along Interstate 80 near Clearfield, PA, when he spotted a fire in the woods alongside the roadway. He and another driver ran into the woods to find the burning wreckage of a double-unit rig that had gone nearly 1,500 feet off the highway. With the help of two more truckers who had stopped, the injured driver was removed before the tractor and trailer were completely destroyed by fire.
Jesse Lee Seal, of Alma, AR, is an owner-operator leased to PDP Unlimited. Early in the morning of Oct. 7, 2009, Seal was driving his 18-wheeler southbound on Interstate 530 near Little Rock, AR, when another truck ahead of him abruptly swerved left. It went across the median and the northbound lanes, eventually coming to rest on an opposite embankment. As this happened, the truck lost a fuel tank, which caught fire.
Seal quickly stopped his truck, grabbed his fire extinguisher, and ran across the lanes to provide assistance. He extinguished the burning fuel tank, was able to open the hot door and put out the fire that was burning the driver’s legs, and cut the seat belt to save his life. LL
The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company’s North America Highway Hero Program began in 1983 as a grassroots effort to elevate the image and public awareness of the responsible elements in the trucking industry. Goodyear launched the program to locate, honor and publicize those truck drivers who clearly qualify for the rare label of “hero”.
An annual nationwide search is conducted with nominations accepted from the general public, trucking companies and law enforcement agencies for truckers who have clearly gone above and beyond the call of duty in performing heroic rescues or outstanding acts of humanitarianism.
The nomination form is available at www.goodyear.com/truck/pdf/HighwayHeroForm.pdf. Or you may obtain one by calling the Goodyear Highway Hero Hotline at 330-796-8183. Send completed forms to Goodyear Highway Hero Award Headquarters, Dept. 798A, 1144 E. Market Street, Akron, OH 44316.
All nominations are reviewed to ensure the following criteria are met:
- Nominee must be a full-time truck driver;
- Nominee must reside in the U.S. or Canada;
- The incident must have occurred in the U.S. or Canada;
- Nominee must be on the job or on the way to or from work, and in his/her rig at the time of the incident;
- Nominee’s truck at the time of the incident must have 14 wheels or more;
- Nominations must be received by November 30, 2010; and
- Incident must have occurred between November 16, 2009 and November 15, 2010 to qualify for this year’s program.