TCA is an organization founded in 1938 that represents more than 200,000 drivers hauling dry van, refrigerated, flatbed, and intermodal throughout the 48 contiguous states, as well as Alaska, Mexico and Canada.
Since its inception in 1997, the Highway Angels program has honored hundreds of drivers for the exemplary kindness, courtesy, and courage they have displayed while on the job. EpicVue sponsors TCA's Highway Angels program.
Joseph Wilbur of Fort Smith, Arkansas, ABF Freight Systems, Inc.
Spotting taillights on the other side of the highway where there shouldn't have been taillights alerted ABF Freight driver Joseph Wilbur of Fort Smith, Arkansas, that a wrong-way driver was barreling up the highway across from him going against traffic.
This incident occurred around 3 am as Wilbur had just left New Haven, Connecticut, and was northbound on I-95. The other driver was going northbound as well – but in the southbound lanes of the highway.
Wilbur immediately called 911 and told the dispatcher for the Connecticut State Police about the potentially disastrous situation that was unfolding beside him.
Keeping pace with the wrong-way driver, Wilbur stayed on the line with the 911 dispatcher calling out mile markers and exits as they flew by. Traffic was light, and the few southbound drivers were doing their best to avoid the vehicle as it headed toward them in their lanes.
The wrong-way driver appeared to never slow down or maneuver to avoid hitting anyone, Wilbur reported.
Finally, a vehicle traveling among a cluster of cars couldn't manage to swerve out of the way and it was hit head on by the wrong-way driver, spinning it off to the side. The wrong-way driver's vehicle rolled multiple times right alongside Wilbur's truck, and finally came to rest on its roof.
When Wilbur pulled his truck to a stop and jumped the barrier to aid the crashed driver he could spot the red flashing lights of an EMT vehicle approaching the scene.
As Wilbur and the EMT arrived at the upside-down car they saw that the driver was unconscious and hanging from his seat belt. Wilbur helped the EMT extricate the man by crawling into the car and holding the driver up to release pressure while the EMT cut the seat belt.
They pulled the driver out of the car, and he regained consciousness and began thrashing about. Wilbur stayed with the driver and kept him still while the EMT applied a neck collar.
Wilbur stayed with the EMT and the injured driver until other emergency personnel could show up and take over.
For his willingness to assist his fellow drivers, TCA has presented Wilbur with a certificate, patch, lapel pin, and truck decals. His employer has also received a certificate acknowledging their driver as a Highway Angel.
Jim Kurent of Burlington, Vermont, ABF Freight Systems, Inc.
Jim Kurent was honored as a TCA Highway Angel for the quick thinking and alertness that prevented a major head on collision, thus likely saving his own life as well as the life of the other driver.
Kurent, who lives in Burlington, Vermont, and who drives for ABF Freight Systems, Inc., was driving along a two-lane Vermont highway on January 19 when a Subaru coming in the opposite direction toward him crossed over the center line right in front of him.
Reacting quickly, Kurent managed to swerve to avoid a head-on collision with the approaching vehicle, minimizing the collision to the vehicle as it just bounced off the side of Kurent's truck.
The other vehicle careered to the other side of the road, but Kurent's truck ended up sliding into a ditch at the side of the road.
Kurent was able to maneuver himself out of the cab and, uninjured, walked up the highway to where the Subaru had come to rest. Apparently, the other driver had been listening to a book on tape and in a moment of distraction he had drifted from his side of the road and into the path of Kurent's truck.
“I wouldn’t say this was a heroic deed, but I was just alert and doing my job as I always do,” Kurent shared with TCA. “The driver of the car made a comment that my actions saved his life. I don’t know about that. But if I wouldn’t have been alert and swerved into the ditch, 50 miles an hour verses 50 miles an hour head on would not have turned out as safe as it did.”
For his quick thinking and willingness to provide aid, TCA has presented Kurent with a certificate, patch, lapel pin, and truck decals. ABF Freight System, Inc. also received a certificate acknowledging their driver as a Highway Angel.
Terry Whittington of Forth Smith, Arkansas, ABF Freight Systems, Inc.
This next Highway Angel story does not have a happy ending and, in fact, represents the worst nightmare of every truck driver who has ever had to pull over onto a busy highway's shoulder to check equipment or perform an emergency procedure.
Unfortunately, it was one truck driver's fatal tragedy, and Terry Whittingon's nightmare to witness.
He drives for ABF Freight Systems, Inc., and was on I-10 in the Los Angeles basin, just leaving Fontana, California, and heading to his home terminal in Phoenix, Arizona.
As he was driving along about 7:30 on a June 2018 morning he saw what looked like an accident ahead and a tarp lying in the road next to a tractor-trailer parked on the right shoulder.
When he noticed that the "tarp" was a man lying in the road he quickly pulled over to the right shoulder and ran to the man, calling 911 as he did so.
The driver was conscious and crying out for someone to help him get up. The man, a driver for Roehl Transport, told Whittington he had pulled over to check his equipment and had gotten sideswiped by a U-Haul vehicle pulling a car that had drifted toward the right shoulder.
The truck driver's legs were badly crushed and Whittington could tell that he was losing a lot of blood and suffering from shock. He placed his jacket over the driver and tried to comfort him while waiting for first responders to arrive. He later learned that the driver had died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.
“It was horrible,” shared Whittington as he thinks back on that day. “I just wanted to sit there and cry.” Over the ensuing days he had a hard time sleeping. “I kept envisioning that poor man and how he was asking me to help him get up. All he did was pull over to check his equipment and now he’s dead. People need to pay more attention when they’re out there on the road.”
Whittington has been a teamster for 32 years and has worked for ABF Freight for three years.
For his willingness to assist his fellow drivers, TCA has presented Whittington with a certificate, patch, lapel pin, and truck decals. His employer has also received a certificate acknowledging their driver as a Highway Angel.
TCA encourages nominations for the Highway Angel program. Visit the TCA Highway Angel website to fill out the nomination form.
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