Four individuals put their lives on the line to help others and have been named finalists for the 28th annual Goodyear North America Highway Hero Award.
“They represent the thousands of professional truck drivers who work every day across North America. Each year, this program offers an opportunity for recognition of those who put their lives on the line to help others,” said Joseph Copeland, vice president for commercial tire systems for The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company.
For the 2010 award, the finalists are:
Tilden Curl, of Olympia, WA, an OOIDA member and a driver for Tecco Trucking. Just after noon on Oct. 27, 2010, Curl was driving southbound on Highway 99 near Tulare, CA, when a vehicle appeared to lose control and cross traffic, leaving the highway and finally coming to a stop with its front wheels lodged over the railroad tracks that run parallel to the highway.
Curl stopped his truck to check on the car, then noticed a train was coming. An elderly woman exited the passenger side of the car, and Curl yelled for her to get clear of the tracks. He then noticed that the driver was unconscious and trapped inside.
At first, the door couldn’t be opened, but Curl was able to squeeze his arm inside and unlock it. Working quickly, he was able to unfasten the man’s seatbelt and drag him out of the car and away from the area just seconds before the train collided with the stranded vehicle.
Bill Howard, of Litchfield, NE, an OOIDA member and a driver for Howard Transportation. As Howard drove along Highway 2 near Ravenna, NE, on May 22, 2010, a car crossed the center line and struck his rig. The female driver had fallen asleep, allowing the car to drift into the truck’s drive wheels, then underneath the trailer before coming to rest alongside the road.
When Howard stopped his truck to check on the condition of the driver, he found she had sustained life-threatening injuries, including a nearly severed arm, two broken legs, and injuries to her face and head. Keeping his cool, Howard was able to provide aid to the severely injured driver. He secured her injured arm with a shirt and kept her from bleeding to death.
David Nelson, of Orlando, FL, a driver for Werner Enterprises. On Feb. 2, 2010, while driving on I-20 near Birmingham, AL, Nelson was flagged down by a woman who had just lost control of her vehicle and hit a road sign. He discovered the woman’s 7-year-old daughter was not breathing.
A certified EMT for 25 years, Nelson performed CPR until emergency personnel arrived. Because of his quick actions, the girl is alive and healthy.
Jaime Avitia, of El Paso, Texas, a driver for Stagecoach Cartage. Early in the morning of Aug. 31, 2010, Avitia was driving on I-10 when he saw a pickup suddenly leave the roadway, hit a concrete drainage culvert nose-first, flip into the air and land upright.
Avitia quickly stopped his truck, grabbed a flashlight and first aid kit, and ran down the embankment toward the accident. He found the driver in the back seat of the crew cab, where he did CPR, saving the man’s life.
Journalists from the trucking industry are now voting on the finalists. The winner will be announced March 31 at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, KY, and will receive a $10,000 U.S. Savings Bond, a plaque and a specially designed ring. The other finalists will receive a $5,000 U.S. Savings Bond and plaque. LL