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FedEx Freight driver instructor Kenny Cass named Highway Angel of the Year

FedEx Freight driver instructor Kenny Cass garnered the 2012 TCA Highway Angel of the Year Award. (Courtesy: TCA)

The Trucker News Services

12/3/2012

ALEXANDRIA, Va.   Kenny Cass, a driver development instructor for FedEx Freight on Portland, Ore., has been named 2012 Highway Angel of the Year by the Truckload Carriers Association.

Cass will be honored during the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Dec. 15, at Bronco Stadium in Boise, Idaho.

On March 22, 2012, at approximately 8:10 p.m., Cass was driving along Martin Luther King Boulevard in Portland when he witnessed a pick-up truck rear-end a 53-foot tractor-trailer.

The pick-up was now wedged up to its windshield under the truck.

Cass immediately called 911, turned on his flashers and placed his vehicle 50 yards behind the scene to warn oncoming traffic. He approached the pick-up and found the bloody and disoriented driver still alive, wearing his seatbelt, and — unbelievably — talking on his cell phone.

Cass told him to remain still and wait for help to arrive.

He then checked on the driver of the tractor-trailer and found her to be OK, but also somewhat disoriented. Since Cass is a professional driver trainer, he knew that her truck would be equipped with reflective triangles.

Even though she did not seem to understand what he was talking about, he was able to locate the triangles and put them together. Holding them in front of his chest to reflect his own body so no one would hit him, he placed the triangles an appropriate distance from the wreck. Cass knew that the triangles were an important tool for warning oncoming traffic, which would be hurtling toward the wreck in the dark at 55 mph.

As he returned to the pick-up truck, Cass saw that smoke was now billowing from beneath it. Fearing a possible fire, he smashed the window and pulled the driver out, still on the phone. He got the man to sit in a safe place nearby. Now he rushed back to the driver of the tractor trailer, got her out of her vehicle, and obtained her fire extinguisher. Meanwhile, the pick-up driver had left the scene.

Apparently, he was still in shock and had begun running toward oncoming traffic.

Cass got him to safety and had started applying bandages to the bleeding man when help arrived. The entire incident occurred during a 20-minute period before emergency responders showed up, and throughout the ordeal, no other motorists stopped to help Cass.

As the Highway Angel of the Year, Cass will be flown to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl for public recognition.

After the audience hears the story, Cass will be presented with a trophy saluting his willingness to stop and help when no one else did.

“Although this incident highlights one extreme occurrence, I have noticed that Kenny shows this type of assertiveness to help and support everyone he comes in contact with,” said Mike Harris, Cass’ service center manager at the FedEx facility in Portland. “He is well respected by all of his colleagues and students and definitely thinks of others before himself. I am proud to have Kenny Cass on the Portland team!”

Robert Low, TCA’s chairman and the president and chief executive officer of Prime inc. at Springfield, Mo., said, “Kenny Cass served our country in the U.S. Coast Guard for 24 years. Coming on the heels of Veterans Day, I want to first thank Kenny for his sacrifice and service to America. Kenny showed that his experience with the U.S. Coast Guard was used to keep calm and act quickly in this particularly stressful situation. I applaud the capable way he handled this event.  He is an outstanding example of the many terrific people we have working within the trucking industry and is a true Highway Angel.”

Low noted that as Cass is honored before the 34,000 in attendance at the game, the event will spotlight not only the Highway Angel program, but the trucking industry in general. The publicity will do much to further TCA’s goal of educating the general public about the good deeds that professional truck drivers do every day in the course of their jobs.

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“Each year, we receive several Angel nominations that share a common thread: the Angel is either the only person who stops to help, or is one of just a few people,” said Scott Moscrip, president of Internet Truckstop, the Highway Angel program sponsor. “We in the industry are aware of the trend – and this type of high-profile recognition for people like Cass helps the general public see it, too. The trucking industry has heart, that’s for sure.”

Since its inception in August 1997, the Highway Angel 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.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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