The four finalists for the 30th Annual Goodyear Highway Hero Award include an Ohio-based driver who died after fighting to control a loaded truck that had lost its brakes; a Minnesota-based driver who rescued a fellow trucker who had been severely injured in a horrific crash; an Arkansas-based trucker who rescued a family that had been trapped in a smashed minivan, and a North Carolina-based driver who pulled a man from a burning pickup truck.
Finalists were announced in a press release issued by Goodyear on March 1. The winner will be announced on March 21, during the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, KY.
“The Goodyear Highway Hero Award recognizes professional truck drivers who put their lives on the line to help others,” said Phillip Kane, vice president, Goodyear Commercial Tire Systems. “Each of our Highway Hero Award finalists took action without regard to his personal safety, and saved other people’s lives.”
The award honors truck drivers who put themselves in harm’s way to help others. Finalists are:
Christopher Burgess, an independent driver from Ravenna, OH. After picking up 15 tons of sand, Burgess was driving a truck down a steep hill in Akron, OH, when its brakes failed. Fighting to keep the truck under control, Burgess waved his arms and honked the vehicle’s horn while it sped down the hill toward a busy intersection at an estimated 50 miles per hour.
He maneuvered the truck through the intersection, missing both pedestrians and other automobiles. He swerved between two buildings full of people and steered toward bushes and trees at the rear of the property, behind which was a river bank. The truck hit a tree and dropped into the river below. Burgess died in the accident.
Chad Dickey of Wadena, MN, who drives for Tony’s Transfer. The OOIDA member was driving near Chattanooga, TN, late at night when he came across vehicle debris, including a fuel tank, scattered across the highway. Dickey stopped his truck, grabbed his flashlight, and went to investigate. He spotted some tracks on the pavement and followed them to a nearby ditch, where he found the remains of an 18-wheeler, including the exposed driver’s seat to which Lewis Boyd, another trucker, was strapped.
Boyd had suffered a massive gash in his leg and was passing in and out of consciousness due to rapid blood loss. Dickey applied a tourniquet to Boyd’s leg for 30 minutes while keeping him alert until rescue personnel arrived. They airlifted Boyd to a local hospital, where he spent more than a month recovering from his injuries.
Jason Harte of Rogers, AR, who drives for Sammons Trucking. Harte, an OOIDA member, was driving down an interstate in Wyoming when he saw a speeding pickup truck push a minivan off the road and slam into another car, pushing it to the highway median. Bystanders helped the car driver while Harte approached the van, where a man and woman holding a 6-month-old baby were frantically trying to get out of the vehicle. Harte noticed three other children were trapped in the van. He dialed 911, helped the man, woman and baby out of the van, and then rescued the most accessible of the three other children.
Working with other bystanders, Harte, a former paramedic, opened the van’s back hatch and began performing first aid on the nearest child, then pulled her out through the door. He pulled apart seats and cut seatbelts to rescue the third child. Calling upon his EMT experience, Harte helped rescue crews tend to the victims’ injuries – which ranged from broken legs to a fractured skull and internal bleeding – until ambulances could whisk them away.
David Williams of Angier, NC, who drives for Schneider National. Williams was driving down an interstate in Wilmington, NC, when he spotted a disabled car ahead of him. It was raining heavily, and the car had spun around, facing oncoming traffic. Williams stopped his truck and raced to the car. He placed safety cones around the car and began directing traffic away from it.
Suddenly, Williams spotted a pickup truck approaching at high speed. He jumped out of the way to avoid being crushed by the pickup, which slammed into the back of his rig and burst into flames. The pickup’s driver escaped while Williams pulled the truck’s passenger out of the burning vehicle. He then helped extinguish the flames that had engulfed the pickup.
Winners are chosen by a panel of media members who cover the trucking industry. The winning driver will receive a special ring, a plaque and a $5,000 cash award. Each of the other finalists will receive a plaque and cash award. In addition, the person who nominated this year’s winner will receive a $1,000 prize.
“We are honored to have these individuals as part of our Goodyear Highway Hero Award program,” said Kane. “They are a credit to the transportation industry, and we look forward to recognizing them during MATS for their courage and selflessness."
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