Five finalists in running for Goodyear's North America Highway Hero Award

| 3/21/2002

Citizens alive today who might have perished from fire or drowning can thank professional truckdrivers for their lives. The five are among the finalists for the 2001 Goodyear North America Highway Hero Award.

"We can all feel a little safer knowing there are courageous individuals like these men on our roadways," said Ted Fick, Goodyear's vice president for Commercial Tire Systems. "In the 19 years since the inception of the Goodyear Highway Hero program, we have heard about hundreds of truckdrivers who placed themselves in harm's way to save someone else, and we believe it is important that they be recognized publicly."

The drivers will be introduced to the trucking industry March 22nd at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, and one of the drivers will gain top honors. The finalists are:

William Clark, York, PA - Traveling on Interstate 95 near Washington, DC, in the early morning hours of Nov. 8, 2000, Clark watched another truck burst into flames, swerve and overturn after it collided into a disabled vehicle. Both the car and the truck were engulfed in fire. Clark rushed from his truck to the car, but the female motorist had been killed instantly. Turning his attention to the truck, Clark kicked in the rig's cracked windshield, dislodged the driver and pulled him from flames to safety. Clark is a driver for Frito Lay.

Bill Johnson and Byran Effle of Norfolk, NE - Shortly after the two Ruan Transportation drivers left the terminal for their respective routes on April 13, 2001, they spotted an overturned car in a ditch. When the pair stopped to investigate, they found a teenage boy in the ditch, motionless and facedown in a pool of water. Johnson and Effle gently lifted the unconscious and badly injured teenager. Johnson continued to hold him while Effle called for help and searched the area for other possible victims. When help arrived, the two drivers helped the paramedics lift the victim out of the ditch and into the ambulance.

Oscar Gonzalez, Laredo, TX - The driver of a pickup truck was using his vehicle to push a disabled car along I-35 on June 30, 2001, when construction forced him from the shoulder into the right lane of traffic. As they tried to merge, a tractor-trailer struck the pickup truck and automobile. Gonzalez, a driver for Averitt Express, saw the tractor-trailer run off the road, and immediately stopped to help. A man and a 6-year-old girl were trapped in the pickup truck, and Gonzalez attempted to douse emerging flames and free them. The man was trapped, but Gonzalez removed the girl from danger. She suffered third-degree burns. He then assisted the four victims from the other car, moving them away from danger. Gonzalez provided aid and comfort to the victims, especially the young girl, and remained with her until EMS arrived on the scene.

Larry "Scott" Travis of Albuquerque, NM - Travis, a driver for Covenant Transportation, was traveling on U.S. 270 through Sheridan, AR, on Aug. 6, 2001, when he saw a car in a ditch, partially engulfed in flames. While other bystanders stood helpless, Travis approached the car with his fire extinguisher and removed an unconscious female driver from the wreckage, suffering burns on his own body. Moments after the driver had been safely removed, her car exploded in flames.

The finalists were chosen from state and provincial winners throughout the United States and Canada. A panel of judges, consisting of members of the trucking and tire trade media, will select the 2001 Goodyear North America Highway Hero.

To nominate a professional truckdriver for the 2002 Goodyear Highway Hero Award, visit Goodyear's Commercial Tire web site at