KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Ed and Tracy Zimmerman, drivers for Hirschbach Motor Lines Inc. of Dubuque, Iowa, have been named the 2019 Highway Angels of the Year, also known as EpicAngels, by the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) and its partner EpicVue. The husband-and-wife driving team was recognized Tuesday during TCA’s annual convention, Truckload 2020: Orlando.
On May 25, 2019 at 8:30 a.m., the Zimmermans left fear behind them when they came upon a horrific accident. Tracy was at the wheel as Ed rested in the sleeper. It was a normal day as they headed to Hodgkins, Ill., to make a delivery. While traveling on Interstate 77 near Beckley, W.Va., Tracy came around a curve and noticed some stopped vehicles. Looking farther ahead, she spotted a vehicle upside-down in a ditch — and on fire.
Tracy quickly stopped the truck, positioning it to block traffic, just as another motorist who had stopped came running up to the truck, frantically waving his arms and yelling for a fire extinguisher and saying a person was trapped in the burning vehicle. Ed, now awake, grabbed the truck’s fire extinguisher, and the team hurried to the vehicle. They joined an off-duty firefighter who had also stopped at the scene. As one bystander used the fire extinguisher to keep the flames back, another motorist ran over and used a crowbar to smash the burning vehicle’s passenger-side window. The trapped motorist was conscious, and said his leg was stuck. Ed and Tracy worked with the two other men to pull the trapped motorist free; then carried him away from the vehicle. The driver told his rescuers that he had a gun and ammunition in the vehicle. Hearing this, the Zimmermans moved as quickly as they could to put more distance between them and the vehicle, which was now engulfed in flames. Just moments later, the vehicle exploded, sending glass and metal flying.
“It was a surreal, incredible, life-changing moment,” Tracy shared with TCA. The Zimmermans agree that they were supposed to be there at that time. “God puts us where he needs us the most,” Tracy said. “Two more minutes and that man would have been burned alive.”
Although the driver was seriously hurt, the Zimmermans later saw a newspaper article stating the driver was expected to survive. The man had come off a night shift and had apparently fallen asleep at the wheel as he headed to his daughter’s birthday party that morning.
“Thank you both for your selfless act of courage on that May morning,” said EpicVue CEO Lance Platt after presenting the Zimmerman’s with a crystal award.
During the awards presentation, TCA Highway Angel Spokesperson and Nashville Recording Artist Lindsay Lawler, accompanied by guitarist Chris Roberts, sang a rendition of “Highway Angel” and thanked the driving team.
The Highway Angel program, now in its 23rd year, recognizes professional truck drivers who have selflessly helped others while on the job. From each year’s Angels, one is selected as Highway Angel of the Year because he or she best embodies the spirit of the program.
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.