Three individuals earn Carnegie Medals for helping truckers

By Land Line staff | 7/14/2016

A registered nurse, a security officer and a youth pastor each received the prestigious Carnegie Medal for Heroism for risking their lives to save truckers who were involved in crashes.

Kelly Winters, 47, of Chapin, S.C., rescued truck driver Leslie Miller from a burning cab following a crash in Columbia, S.C., on May 27, 2015.

Turner Lagpacan, 23, of Wichita, Kan., and Jason C. Newby, 44, of Eaton, Colo., were both injured while attempting to rescue trucker Dwight Handley from a burning cab following a crash in Mulhall, Okla., on April 3, 2015.

The three men are among a group of 23 honorees recognized for their extraordinary civic heroism. Established by industrial magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1904, the Carnegie Medal is given throughout the U.S. and Canada “to those who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree while saving or attempting to save the lives of others.” The awards were presented on June 30. In addition to the medal, winners also receive a $5,000 grant.

According to the Carnegie Hero Foundation’s website, Winters, a registered nurse, was a motorist involved in a 10-vehicle crash on I-26 involving a tanker truck filled with gasoline. Miller, the driver of the tanker, was trapped after the rig struck several vehicles and ended up on its side, partially atop a concrete median.

As she screamed for help, Winters climbed on top of her burning cab and tried to pull the trapped Miller through the window. When that didn’t work, he jumped back to the ground and kicked the partially dislodged windshield before pulling it open wide enough for Miller to crawl out, and the pair along with another man were able to flee to safety moments before the flames engulfed the cab.

Winters suffered lacerations to his arms and Miller required hospitalization for her injuries. 

Lagpacan, a security officer and former EMT, and Newby, a youth pastor, were both severely injured trying to save truck driver Handley when the trucker’s cargo tank exploded, killing the 62-year-old driver in the process.

Handley was involved in an interstate highway accident with another disabled tractor-trailer, causing his cab to catch fire. Flames spread to the tanker as well. Lagpacan, a passing motorist, witnessed the crash and stopped to help. Needing a fire extinguisher to assist with Handley’s rescue, he approached Newby in his truck, who had also stopped to help. Grabbing fire extinguishers, the two men rushed back to help. When they were about 15 feet from the cab, the tanker exploded, blowing them 20 feet away and off the roadway. Lagpacan was treated at the scene and later required hospital treatment for breathing problems. Newby sustained a severe injury to his right leg, which required surgery.

Last year, trucker Clinton Blackburn became at least the third OOIDA member to receive both a Carnegie Medal and to be named a Goodyear Highway Hero. Blackburn put his own life on the line to rescue a sheriff’s deputy from a life-threatening prisoner escape on Kentucky’s Bluegrass Parkway in 2014. In 2009, trucker Jorge Orozco-Sanchez of Firestone, Colo., received both honors for rescuing two young sisters from a burning car in October 2008. In 2013, trucker Mike Schiotis of Spring Hill, Tenn., also received both honors when he rescued a woman on the highway who was being pursued and shot at by her ex-boyfriend. Schiotis picked up the woman in his truck and he and another trucker created a rolling roadblock around the man’s vehicle until Pennsylvania state troopers were able to apprehend him.

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