ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) has recognized professional drivers Phillip Hurte of Oklahoma City and Terry Harper of Wichita, Kansas, as Highway Angels for their heroism on the road.
TCA presented each driver with a Highway Angel certificate, patches, lapel pin and truck decals. In addition, their companies received a letter acknowledging their drivers as Highway Angels.
On Oct. 25, 2021, Hurte, a driver for Ryder, was driving his regular route for Acme Brick in Lubbock, Texas, when he saw a serious accident — vehicle ran a red traffic signal and crashed into an SUV, causing the SUV to flip.
He quickly tapped the brakes of his truck to activate a Lytx recording of the event; then slowed down until he could safely stop. Hurte carefully approached the SUV, a Chevrolet Suburban, where he found two adults and two children trapped inside, upside-down. He helped extract the family from the damaged vehicle and stayed with them until emergency responders arrived at the scene.
“It’s not every day that you see a serious accident like that, when I’m available to help,” Hurte said. “My thinking is, I’d want someone to be a good Samaritan if that was me and my family — to stop and see if I was okay.”
The driver of the other vehicle, who was traveling with a toddler, was killed in the accident.
According to officials, Hurte’s actions not only saved the family in the SUV from further harm, but his quick thinking to also trigger a dashcam recording of the incident helped law enforcement figure out what happened at the accident scene.
“If I can help, I’m gonna do it, because I want somebody to do that for me,” Hurte said.
One evening in late December 2021, Harper, a driver for ABF, was traveling on U.S. 54 near Texhoma, Oklahoma, on his way to Wichita when he came upon an overturned pickup truck in the middle of the road.
“It was after 7 p.m., so it was dark out and the pickup was laying perpendicular to the road,” he said. “It was hard to see it. It was across both lanes, and vehicles were trying to go around it.”
A woman was standing in the road, and flagged Harper down as he approached
“She jumped right in front of me,” he recalled. “I had to move to avoid hitting her. It freaked me out.”
The woman asked Harper to maneuver his truck to block traffic, because other drivers were narrowly missing the overturned pickup.
“I wasn’t sure if I should do that,” said Harper. Instead, he pulled to the right lane and shoulder.
The driver of the pickup was a young man whom Harper believed to be 17 or 18 years old.
“He was sitting in another car with his father and appeared to be okay,” he said, adding that he noticed a 30-day tag on the pickup. “The kid was probably new to driving. Maybe his dad had been following behind him.”
Harper says one of the bystanders at the scene told him the driver had reported feeling lightheaded when he was driving.
“It was a really old pickup, so maybe there was an exhaust leak,” speculated Harper. “Or maybe there was something in the road.”
Harper grabbed a flashlight and began to halt traffic to prevent other drivers from hitting the overturned pickup.
“We had traffic pretty much at a standstill,” he said.
An ambulance arrived in less than 10 minutes, and law enforcement arrived soon after to take over the scene. Harper says he’s thankful that the young man didn’t appear to have any serious injuries — although this day is one he likely won’t soon forget.
Harper has been a professional truck driver for seven years says he enjoys the career. Before driving trucks, he worked as a school bus driver.
He notes the differences with a chuckle: “Driving a semi is better, because the freight doesn’t talk back,” he shared. “I don’t need to yell that I’m going to pull over.”
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.