ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Corey Parker of Kenansville, North Carolina, and Robert Coats of Stow, Ohio, have been honored as Highway Angels by the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) because of their acts of bravery while on the road. Since its inception in 1997, the Highway Angels program has recognized nearly 1,300 professional truck drivers for the exemplary kindness, courtesy and courage they have displayed while on the job.
Early in the evening on June 21, Parker was driving on a busy highway south of Ashland, Virginia, when he noticed a Lexus sedan traveling recklessly from lane to lane.
“They smacked the barrier and then went out to the middle of the road, and then (went) in and smacked the barrier again,” Parker said. “I thought, ‘Something’s definitely going on.’”
Parker followed the car from Ashland onto the Chippenham Parkway in Chesterfield, blasting his horn and attempting to slow down traffic to alert travelers to the erratic driver.
“I didn’t want to pull up right next to it since they were just smacking the barrier, going in and out, so I just started going in and out of all the lanes and made sure no cars got on the side,” he said.
Fearing the driver would crash into a car full of innocent people, Parker used his truck to guide the vehicle to a stop against a concrete barrier.
“The car slowed down to about 10, 15 (mph) and smacked the barrier,” he said. “I knew that was the time to get in front of them.”
Once the car was stopped, Parker approached the driver’s side, opened the door and spotted a Narcan pen in the driver’s lap. Naloxone, or Narcan, is used to reverse the effects of a drug overdose. The driver was unconscious. Moments later, police arrived.
Virginia State Police (VSP) said they responded to the scene on Chippenham Highway near Strathmore Road around 8 p.m.
“A green 2006 Lexus GS 300, driven by Antonio Hawkins, 32, of Richmond, had been seen all over the road by witnesses before running off the road to the left and striking a guard rail,” according to an email from Sgt. Jessica Shehan, reported CBS News 6 in Richmond.
Troopers on the scene noted that both the driver and the passenger, a 28-year-old man from Richmond, were unconscious and unresponsive. According to news reports, law enforcement and first responders administered Narcan at the scene, and the two regained consciousness.
The driver was checked out by paramedics on scene and refused further medical treatment. The passenger was transported to Chippenham Hospital and was discharged, VSP told media outlets. The crash is still under investigation.
“All I could think of was that car hitting kids or something,” Parker said, explaining why he went to such extraordinary lengths to stop the car.
Parker says he knows firsthand how drugs can impact and take over a person’s life for the worse; he was incarcerated for six years because of decisions he made while addicted. He has since recovered, is married and owns a trucking business, a property and a home.
The driver of the Lexus later contacted Parker to thank him for saving his life.
“I’m in the process of helping him get into rehab,” Parker said.
On March 24, Coats was traveling southbound on Interstate 65 in Kentucky when he approached an accident involving two commercial motor vehicles and a car, all three of which were on fire.
“I saw a big plume of smoke, and then flames,” he said. “Something just said, ‘pull over.’”
Upon reaching the accident scene, he found a woman trapped in her car, which was on fire. The driver’s side door was engulfed in 4-foot-high flames. Coats climbed into the back seat of the car on the driver’s side to help.
“As she was stuck in there, I reached in. I said, ‘Ma’am! Ma’am! we’ve gotta get out! We’ve gotta get out!’” Coats said.
Without a moment to spare, Coats coaxed the woman to climb over the seat of the burning car into the back seat; then he proceed to pull her out of the rear door window to safety.
Seconds later, the car exploded. The woman suffered multiple injuries and was airlifted to receive medical attention. Three weeks later, the woman contacted Coats to thank him. Since then, he has met with the woman and her family, who expressed gratitude for his help at the scene.
“Mr. Coats used his fire extinguisher to stave off the fire that had ignited the victim’s car,” said Kentucky State Police Officer Kelly Anderson. “He entered into a funnel of two CMVs that were on fire, as well as the surrounding area. Witnesses stated he was holding back the fire until he was able to remove her and pull her to safety moments before the car exploded.”
Coats said it was a miracle neither he nor the crash victim suffered any burns, despite being in a car engulfed in flames. Many have asked Coats: Why would you jump into a burning car?
“There wasn’t a second thought about it. I just did it — I saw, and I went — that was it. Everything worked out in God’s favor; that’s how he wanted it,” is his response.
“Mr. Coats went above and beyond and saved this lady’s life. He is a tribute to his profession,” said a report from the Kentucky State Police.
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.