Chris Burruss is president of the Truckload Carriers Association.
If you’ve ever heard Chris speak in person or talked with him on the telephone, you know he could easily carry the bass section in the local community or church choir, his deep resonating voice going lower and lower and still lower on the scale.
Chris is a friend to truckers.
He’s extremely knowledgeable about trucking and eager to share his thoughts on how to make our industry a better place to work.
He’s also a humanitarian.
His organization sponsors the Highway Angel program that recognizes truckers who’ve gone above and beyond the call in helping someone in distress.
TCA has partnered with the uDrove Humanitarian Bowl in Boise, Idaho, to recognize the Highway Angel of the Year in a special ceremony during bowl day each December.
We’ve frequently kidded Chris about choosing to partner with a bowl in such as cold climate, but each year he bundles up to look more like someone delivering the freight in Alaska and presents the award.
Among the drivers honored this year at Highway Angels are John Manering, Jason Tolliver and Barry Eckert.
Manering, a driver for Minstar Transport of Eagan, Minn., helped minimize a victim’s pain at the scene of an accident on April 28.
At about 9:30 a.m. that day, Manering witnessed an accident at the interchange of Interstate 35 and U.S. Highway 65 southeast of Albert Lea, Minn., where a pickup truck improperly pulled in front of a dump truck.
Both vehicles were hauling heavy loads for their sizes.
The dump truck hit the pickup, lost its load of sand and ended up on its side, crushing the rear of the pickup as well as its own passenger side.
The dump truck’s airbag deployed, and its driver was trapped by the steering wheel and the broken shifting column. He could not move and was hanging from his seatbelt.
Manering immediately pulled over, called 911, and went to assist the dump truck driver, while someone else went to help the driver of the pickup.
Jason Tolliver, a driver for Werner Enterprises of Omaha, Neb., was getting ready to leave a customer’s facility May 29 when he saw a man lying on the ground and security guards hovering over him. Apparently, William Hoage, a truck driver for Baylor Trucking of Milan, Ind., had been walking toward the rear of his trailer to secure his load when he stopped abruptly and collapsed to the ground.
Tolliver came over to help, found the driver to be unresponsive and immediately began administering CPR. He asked one of the security guards to call 911 and continued to provide CPR until medical personnel arrived and took over.
“I took an EMT course after high school before I got into trucking,” said Tolliver. “It definitely came in handy that day.”
Hoage was transported to the hospital and was treated for a heart attack. He remained in the intensive care unit for several days and was released after about a week. His family later communicated to Werner that they are extremely grateful for Tolliver’s assistance.
On Aug. 19 at about 12:45 a.m., Eckert was driving along Highway 24, a heavily traveled thoroughfare in Beulaville, N.C., when another truck driver flashed his lights, indicating that something was wrong. Almost immediately, Eckert saw a small child on the shoulder of the roadway.
The child was 6 years old; however, she seemed to have the mental capacity of a three-year-old. Laughing and giggling, she was flailing her arms and jumping around in just a T-shirt and underwear. She had slipped out of her grandparents’ home and wandered half a mile away and onto the highway. Her grandparents were still asleep and had no idea that the child — one of 11 that they were watching that night — was missing.
Eckert and the other truck driver used their vehicles to block traffic from coming near the girl. Eckert called 911, while the other truck driver attempted to catch the child. Eventually, they were able to calm her down and get her to stay in one place until the police arrived. A passing pedestrian who knew the child told them the grandparents’ address, and the police took the girl home.
Since its inception in August 1997, the Highway Angels program has recognized hundreds of drivers 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.
We commend Chris and his associates at TCA for honoring truckers for their heroic action.
For additional information, contact TCA at (703) 838-1950 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lyndon Finney of The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at email@example.com.
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