Trucker's fateful decision saves fellow driver's life

By Reed Black, Land Line Now staff reporter | 8/23/2012

A truck driver who says he almost always stops at a restaurant in Newton, KS, says he decided to keep driving on June 26 , a decision that ultimately saved another driver’s life.

Steven Huett, who drives for Illinois-based Tennant Truck Lines, told “Land Line Now” that he came across another one of the company’s trucks that day that was pulled off on the shoulder along Highway 50 near Peabody, KS.

It was a 105-degree day, and when Huett checked the cab of the other truck he found driver Jackie Kinley on the brink of a heart attack.

“I yelled at him on the radio and I didn’t get an answer, so I rolled up behind him and went up to the truck to check on him,” Huett said. “He kept wringing his hands, working his fingers like they hurt. I asked him, ‘Do your fingertips tingle, but the rest of your hand doesn’t?’”

Huett said Kinley answered yes, and added that he felt hot and couldn’t get cooled down.

“I told him I think you’re having a heart attack,” Huett said.

While Kinley told him he could head on down the road, that he was just going to rest in his truck for a while, Huett said he took out his cellphone while he was walking back to his truck and called 911. He also grabbed a couple of aspirins and a bottle of water.

“I told him to chew them up and get them down with the water,” Huett said.

He said the ambulance crew arrived a short time later. And the hospital later confirmed that Kinley had suffered a heart attack and might have died if Huett hadn’t stopped … or if he had stopped at the restaurant in Newton.

“It was the third time in 40 years that I drove by that truck stop (without stopping),” he said. “I was going to go in there and eat lunch myself and get cooled down, but I thought, ‘No, I will go on to Emporia.”

Then around the corner, Huett said he spotted Kinley’s truck.

He said he also stopped because of the words of advice he remembered from a veteran driver years ago.

“When you see one of your trucks sitting on the side of the road, it doesn’t matter if you know who’s driving the truck or what you think of him, you don’t leave him sitting there,” Huett said.

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