Texas trucker lends a helping hand

| 4/13/2007

Trucker Jeff Vowels of Houston, TX, said he feels he was in the right place at the right time and bets the trucker he helped save would agree with him.

Vowels said he was unloading blocks of copper at ASARCO Inc. in Amarillo, TX, around noon on Monday, April 9, when a truck driver who was unchaining his load told him he wasn’t feeling well.

A few minutes later, Vowels, who drives for Fancy Freight based out of Athens, AL, said he looked around and found the other driver he had been talking to lying on the ground.

As he was calling the refinery’s security office, Vowels said he helped the driver get up into the cab of his truck, where it was air-conditioned.

“The next thing I knew, the driver was slumped over behind the steering wheel, saying he thought he was having a heart attack,” he said. “I didn’t even have time to ask the guy his name – it all happened so fast.”

The refinery’s ambulance arrived in just a few minutes, Vowels said, and the driver was quickly given oxygen and taken to a local hospital, where he said he found out later the driver had lived.

Vowels then unloaded the other driver’s truck for him, parked it at the staging lot, called the driver’s company which was listed on the side of truck, Smithway Motor Xpress Corp, based out of Fort Dodge, IA, to let them know he left the keys to the truck at the refinery’s security office.

Jim Kwakenat, SMX director of safety, confirmed that the driver who was hospitalized was Marvin Ward of Carthage, MO, a flatbedder who has worked for the company for 16 years. He also said that Ward did have a heart attack, but was released from the hospital on Thursday, April 12, after having two stints put in cardiac arteries.

Kwakenat said his company has already mailed a gift package to Vowels, which contains a jacket, cap and a check for an undisclosed amount to thank him for his actions in saving Ward’s life.

“This was just a nice thing he did and we want to make sure he knows that we appreciate what he did,” he said. “Marvin is on medical leave for the next 30 to 40 days and then he should be back to work for us,” he said.

Vowels said he appreciates the recognition he has received from Ward’s company.

“I was just helping another driver out,” he said. “I just would hope that someone would do that for me if I was in the same position.”

– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer