Highway Heroes – Truckers Saving Lives

Truckers save lives every day, with mission-critical delivery of medical and emergency supplies. But some do more than just deliver vital goods. Some volunteer to deliver relief to victims of wildfires and floods. Some, like Next Exit’s drivers, navigate rising waters in order to deliver emergency generators to towns hit hard by hurricanes. Some are the eyes and ears of the highway, like trucker Kevin Kimmel, whose sharp eyes and quick thinking saved a young sex trafficking victim who was being held against her will at a Virginia truck stop. And some truckers perform daring rescues that save people’s lives, sometimes at the risk of their own.

Paul Mathias was stopped at a red light in Phoenix, Arizona when a vehicle slammed into an SUV carrying a mother and her two children. Paul jumped out of his cab to help the family, helping perform CPR on the woman’s son and comforting the daughter as she died. The mother and boy survived, and Paul was awarded the 2018 Goodyear Highway Hero award for his leadership, courage, and willingness to help.

2017’s Goodyear Highway Hero, Frank Vieira, definitely saved one life, and maybe two. While driving his truck on a rural highway near Toronto, Ontario, Vieira heard a crash. A car on the other side of the road had slammed into the back of a stationary truck. Vieira rushed to the car, where he found the driver bleeding profusely – a piece of the steering wheel had broken off and lodged in the driver’s neck. After applying pressure to the wound, Vieira called 9-1-1 with his free hand. Just then, the driver of the truck that had been hit came back to see what had happened. When he saw the badly injured driver, he fainted—right onto the open lane beside the crash. But Vieira thought fast. “I hooked my right leg over his leg,” he said, “and pulled it closer to me and clear of the lane of traffic while I was holding the other driver’s neck and talking on the phone with the fire department.”

Brian Snell lost a lung after serving as a rescue worker at Ground Zero on 9/11. It ended his career as a paramedic, but the former Marine then founded a volunteer fire department and began his trucking career—and kept saving lives. Snell was on the job in Westward, Massachusetts when a motorist began heading the wrong way on the highway, then spun out and stopped directly in front of his truck. Snell jumped out and began resuscitating the unconscious driver when the engine of her car caught fire. He got the fire extinguisher from his truck and put the fire out. That’s when he heard yelling—the woman’s car had hit another vehicle, and the driver was badly hurt. Snell rushed over. He was unable to save the other driver but stayed at the scene until emergency vehicles took the woman to the hospital. And he didn’t leave then. He helped extract the man’s body from the mangled car—and found the man’s dog, which miraculously survived and was later reunited with his family. The Truckload Carriers Association named Snell the 2018 Highway Angel of the Year for his assistance and bravery.

Bravery just might be Barry Williams’ middle name. The owner-operator was on US Highway 80 when he saw a truck hit a car, sending it airborne, over the guardrail, and into French Creek. Williams jumped out of his truck and ran to the side rail. “As I saw that she wasn’t coming out, it looked like she was taking her last breath,” he told The West Alabama Watchman. “So, it was either me taking a chance and running way back around the other side or jumping. So, I just jumped in. I wasn’t scared of the water because I knew how to swim.” Another man leaped into the water to help, and between the two of them, they were able to get the driver unbuckled and out of the sinking vehicle. The Demopolis Police Department Williams gave Williams the Medal of Valor, and Mayor John Laney presented him with the Key to the City a gesture of gratitude for his heroic action.

North Carolina trucker Damien McElroy should get an award for “out of the box” heroic action. He recently saved a young mother—by allowing her car to crash into his fuel tanker truck. When McElroy noticed a car swerving down the road, he pulled alongside the vehicle, only to see its driver slumped over the wheel. When she started drifting into oncoming traffic, McElroy pulled his truck in front of her car and eased off the gas until they were both stopped. He then rushed to the car and got the woman’s foot off the gas pedal. The unconscious young woman was transported to the hospital where it was determined that she’d had a seizure. When asked why he attempted such a risky move, McElroy said he knew the driver must be a mother. “The only thing on my mind was the visible car seat in the back, and that she was laid over,” he said. “I just wanted to get the car stopped.”

Stopping an accident must have been on Randall McDougal’s mind, too. When driving near Camden, Arkansas, he called 911 after his truck’s brakes caught fire. McDougal knew he was carrying ammonium nitrate, so instead of abandoning his vehicle and getting himself to safety, he drove the truck to a remote area far from people and buildings. While emergency responders evacuated the area, he tried to put the fire. And though McDougal almost certainly saved dozens of lives, he lost his own. He was killed when his truck exploded. Nothing but a fifteen-foot crater—and the overwhelming gratitude of a community—were left behind.

We’re happy to share these heroic stories with you. We know how much good our country’s truckers do every day, and we’re proud of them all. And though we’re not comparing ourselves with these heroes, we’re also proud to say that we go the extra mile when it comes to getting your critical freight where it needs to be, no matter what. At Next Exit, we earn the trust of our clients with efficiency, transparency, and security. In addition, we understand how to handle freight services for unusual, oversize, or overweight shipments and are certified to arrange the shipment of hazardous materials. To learn more about our services, call Next Exit Logistics at 866-624-2661 or contact us via email.

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