Ruan driver Adam Phillips named TCA Highway Angel for saving motorist from burning car
Ruan Transportation driver Adam Phillips risked his life to extract a motorist from a burning car, then literally gave him the coat off his back.
The Trucker News Services
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Adam Phillips of
Portage, Ind., a professional truck driver for Ruan Transportation Management
Systems of Des Moines, Iowa, has been named a Highway Angel by the Truckload
Carriers Association (TCA). Phillips is being recognized for risking his own
life to pull an injured man from a flaming car.
On March 21, 2013, at 2:10 a.m.,
Phillips was running his normal overnight shift hauling milk. As he drove
southbound along I-65 in Johnson County, Ind., traffic suddenly came to a
screeching halt. In the bitter cold, a man had lost control of his car, which
veered off the right side of the road, went airborne and jumped the guardrail
before hitting the side of the bridge at the County Road 600 overpass and
bursting into flames. Trapped inside, the man was jammed up against the
dashboard and screaming.
A truck driver who saw the crash
used his CB radio to contact other drivers to see if anyone had a fire
extinguisher. Phillips grabbed his and went to the scene, where he saw the car’s
engine on fire. He attempted to put out the flames, but they only grew bigger.
Bystanders gave him several extinguishers to use, but they were no match for
the fire, which had now moved to the inside of the car.
Phillips knew it was imperative to
get the man out of the vehicle quickly, so he tried to crawl in through the
passenger side. Blinded by smoke, he moved to the driver’s side. With the
dashboard on fire and the flames working their way toward the man, he
desperately tried every knob and lever, but the seat would not budge. Part of
the dashboard began melting into the man’s knee.
Finally, another person came with a
crowbar, and together they broke the bolts in the seat to release the pinned
driver. While others took the young man to safety, Phillips did a quick check
for other passengers in the car, and then — just as he took a few steps away — the
car became fully engulfed in flames that shot up higher than the top of the
As his final act of kindness, since
the victim was injured and wearing only a T-shirt and shorts in the extreme
cold, Phillips gave him the coat off his back. “He went out of the oven and
into the ice box, literally,” said Phillips, describing the incident. “Most
people’s freezers don’t get that cold.”
The motorist later expressed his
gratitude to a local television station and met with Phillips to return his jacket
and thank him in person.
Ruan Transportation also recognized
Phillips by presenting him with the Ruan Gold R Award, the company’s highest
and most distinguished team member honor.
When asked about what happened that
morning, Phillips is modest about his involvement. “He needed help … I could
hear him screaming. There was nothing else I can imagine doing at that time,”
For his selfless actions, Phillips
has been presented with a Highway Angel lapel pin, certificate, and patch. Ruan
Transportation Management Systems also received a certificate acknowledging
that one of its drivers is a Highway Angel.
TCA's Highway Angel program is
sponsored by Internet Truckstop. Since the program’s inception in August 1997,
hundreds of drivers have been recognized as Highway Angels for the unusual
kindness, courtesy, and courage they have shown others while on the job. TCA
has received letters and e-mails from people across North America nominating
truck drivers for the program.
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