Goodyear Highway Hero is lifesaver Richard Filiczkowski

| 3/28/2008

For his heroic act of saving an 8-year-old girl after her father’s car went into a pond, OOIDA member Richard Filiczkowski has been named the 2008 recipient of Goodyear’s 25th Annual Highway Hero Award.

Richard and Janet Filiczkowski
(Photo courtesy of Goodyear)

Richard received the award at the Truck Writers of North America’s annual banquet, Thursday, March 27, at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, KY. On Friday, Richard and a select group, including two of the other Highway Hero finalists, were treated to a tour of the Louisville Slugger museum.

The girl Richard saved nearly a year ago, Abby Bern, now 9, posed while her mother, Marty Bern, took pictures in front of a home plate inside the museum. Richard, a Bountiful, UT, driver for C.R. England, told Land Line that he has grown more thankful for each day and for his family since that fateful day on April 26, 2007.

“It’s kind of overwhelming,” he said.

Richard’s wife, Janet, was driving the truck when they both witnessed a car go into the pond along Interstate 90 near Plankinton, SD.

With the help of two other men, Richard was able to free Abbey from the vehicle and the pond, but despite his rescue efforts, the girl’s father, Jeff Bern, died.

“Her only concern was her father,” Richard said.

For his heroic act, Goodyear awarded Richard a $10,000 U.S. Savings Bond, a plaque and a specially designed ring. The other finalists received a $5,000 U.S. Savings Bond and a plaque.

The other finalists were:

The late David Virgoe of Innisfil, Ontario, Canada, was nominated posthumously. Virgoe sacrificed his own life to save others. On June 18, 2007, on Highway 400 near Bradford, Ontario, Virgoe ran into a median guardrail to avoid hitting a street racer who had cut him off.

Rather than slamming into oncoming traffic across the median, Virgoe then swerved to the right, crossed the highway and drove into the ditch along the right side of the road.

Virgoe, 48, died at the scene. He drove for Wilburn Archer Trucking, based in Norwood, Ontario.

Rick Tower of Yreka, CA, saved the life of an 82-year-old woman on Sept. 19, 2007, after her car left the roadway on Highway 96 near Horse Creek, CA, and plunged into the Klamath River.

Tower was able to free the woman from her car and carry her to shore. Fortunately, the woman only suffered a broken ankle and slight hypothermia. Tower drives for Earl Bryant Trucking, based out of Happy Camp, CA.

Ronnie Greene of Regina, NM, saved the life of a pregnant woman on April 27, 2007, on U.S. 84 near Espanola, NM.

Greene stopped his rig after witnessing a pregnant woman being run over by her boyfriend. He was able to push her between his truck and trailer, where he then shielded her with his body, as the woman’s boyfriend tried another three times to run over Greene and the woman.

Greene drives for A. Passmore & Sons, of Altus, OK.

Staff Writers Charlie Morasch and David Tanner contributed to this report.