By Charlie Morasch, staff writer
An OOIDA member helped rescue a woman who had been assaulted and kidnapped on New Year's Eve. Another trucker rescued her 23-month-old daughter.
Oregon State Police arrested 31-year-old Benjamin Franklin Reed, after Reed forced his live-in girlfriend to drive east on Interstate 84 on Dec. 31, 2010, along with her daughter. Reed forced the 25-year-old victim to pull over at the Memaloose Rest Area near milepost 72, according to state police. Police say he then allegedly sexually assaulted the woman.
They drove seven miles further east until the woman seized an opportunity to park and run from her Jeep.
Mark Knappenberger, an OOIDA member from Wheelersburg, OH, told Land Line Now on Sirius XM that he saw the woman walking down the highway's center line at about 4:30 a.m.
"There was a guy walking behind her," Knappenberger said. "I didn't really know what was going on. I thought it was maybe a husband and wife got into it or something. But I stopped."
As Knappenberger slowed his truck, he saw the man get back into the Jeep and try to run her over. The woman jumped over a guardrail to avoid being hit by the Jeep.
The Jeep left the scene, and Knappenberger called 911. The barefoot woman returned to the side of the highway and, at the trucker's invitation, climbed into the cab and talked to an officer on the phone. Her nearly 2-year-old daughter was still in the Jeep.
Meanwhile, Reed crashed the Jeep into a minivan a few miles down the highway. State police said no one in the minivan was injured. Bill Poulos, a FedEx driver who saw the wreck, rescued the toddler from the crashed Jeep, which was smoking from the impact.
Reed faces two counts of first-degree rape, first- and second-degree kidnapping, first-degree sodomy, second-degree assault, assault in the presence of a child, three counts of recklessly endangering another person, driving under the influence of intoxicants, and reckless driving.
As of early January, the Northern Oregon Regional Correctional Facility website listed Reed as being incarcerated with no scheduled release date.
Knappenberger, who hauls reefer loads to the West Coast and back, deflected credit.
"Well, I just happened to be there – the right place at the right time and stuff," Knappenberger said. "I didn't really do much other than just stop. But at least that kept him; he would have left if somebody hadn't been there."
Oregon State Police Sgt. Pat Shortt said he "couldn't compliment (the drivers) enough, especially Knappenberger."
"Not only was he at the right place in the right time, but he took the initiative to stop, help and call in the incident and let police know what was going on," Shortt told Land Line Magazine.
"That was huge in this coming to the resolution that it did. He was a great witness; that guy made a difference."
Shortt said he was preparing paperwork to submit so he could nominate Knappenberger for next year's Goodyear North America "Highway Hero" Award.
Shortt, a 23-year police veteran, said he and other troopers share a certain kinship with truckers.
"We have a certain affinity for truck drivers. Our offices are both on the road," Shortt said. "I've had truck drivers stop and assist me. I've seen them stop and assist crash victims. This is something that happens. Professional drivers will stop and give us assistance on the road."LL
Land Line Now Staff Reporter Reed Black contributed to this article.