Professional truck drivers Karl Scholl, David Horton, Dave Stuckey, Mark Giles, Anthony Scerbo, Lee Thomson, Bruce Stremmel, Jean-Carlo Gachet, Matthew Marchand, Robert Schuhl, Greg Vandal, Elwood Blackstock, Greg Rupp, Matthew Lawson, and Melissa Bencivengo have been named Highway Angels by the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) for their acts of heroism while on the road.
In recognition of these drivers’ willingness to assist fellow drivers and motorists, TCA has presented each Highway Angel with a certificate, lapel pin, patches, and truck decals. Their employers have also received a certificate acknowledging their driver as a receipent. Special thanks to the program’s presenting sponsor, EpicVue, and supporting sponsor, DriverFacts.
To nominate a driver or read more about these and other Highway Angels award recipients, visit highwayangel.org.
Karl Scholl of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, who drives for Bison Transport of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, is being recognized for stopping to aid couple who landed in the ditch during icy road conditions.
Scholl was traveling near Moyie, British Columbia, one December morning when he noticed other drivers flashing their lights, signaling that there was something up ahead.
“The roads were in poor condition from ice and snow,” he shared with TCA. “As I crested a hill, I saw a black pickup towing a 12-foot U-Haul in the ditch.”
A couple were standing on the narrow shoulder, he shared. They had lost control on black ice, and their truck had crossed the center line and landed in the ditch at an angle. After some difficulty, they had managed to climb out and make their way up to the road.
Scholl slowed as he approached the scene and then positioned his truck and trailer as a barricade to prevent other drivers from sliding into the motorists.
“I put on my safety vest and jumped out to check on the couple,” he said. He also grabbed some traffic cones.
Although shaken and scared, the couple told Scholl they were OK and had already called for a tow truck. Scholl invited them, and their two border collies, to wait in his truck, and assured them everything would be OK. He then set up traffic cones behind his truck to alert other drivers, and began directing traffic in both directions to prevent the scene from becoming worse.
Once the Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrived on scene they let Scholl continue directing traffic. He stayed on scene for two hours, until the couple’s truck and U-Haul were eventually pulled from the ditch.
“I’m really glad that everyone stayed safe that day,” shared Scholl.
In a letter to Bison Transport, the couple Scholl helped said that “not only did (Karl) help us on this very unpredictable and frightening morning, but he restored faith in our hearts that human kindness and caring goes a long way on a very cold December morning. Thanks to Karl we have learned to pay it forward and we will always stop to lend a hand to those on the road in need. Thank you Karl we are forever grateful.”
David Horton, who lives in Kernersville, North Carolina, and drives for Best Dedicated of Vernon Hills, Illinois, is being recognized for avoiding a head-on collision and rendering aid to an ill driver who lost consciousness.
On the morning of January 6, Horton was driving through Kershaw, South Carolina, on his way to Marshville, North Carolina, when a car from oncoming traffic suddenly veered directly in his path. Horton acted swiftly and swerved to avoid a head-on collision. He immediately pulled over to the shoulder, called 911, and went to aid the driver of the car, which had stopped nearby.
“When I got to his car, he asked, ‘What happened?’” Horton shared with TCA. The driver, an older man who was suffering a medical emergency, had momentarily lost consciousness while at the wheel. Horton patiently waited with the driver, and
made sure he was attended to by local emergency personnel once they arrived at the scene.
Horton said he responded instinctively during the situation, but was scared “after the fact,” adding, “I thought how close it was that a life could have been taken.”
The family of the driver, whose condition has improved, said the outcome would have been much different had Horton not skillfully swerved to miss the car and called for help. In a heartfelt thank-you letter written to Horton’s trucking fleet, Best Dedicated, the driver’s son-in-law wrote, “Me and my wife appreciate the act of valor that (Horton) took.”
Dave Stuckey of Brackenridge, Pennsylvania, who drives for Ward Trucking of Altoona, Pennsylvania, is being recognized for helping a motorist whose car had stalled in an intersection and caught fire.
In November 2021, Stuckey pulled out of the Perrysburg, Pennsylvania, terminal at 3:30 a.m. and was approaching a red light when he noticed a car stopped just past the light. He found this odd, as the car was not waiting for the red light, but instead was “stalled” in the lane, after it had already made it through the light.
Stuckey shared with TCA that he noticed some sparks under the car that concerned him, so he called 911. He quickly got out of his truck and went over to the car to talk to the male driver who was sitting inside. Stuckey said the driver seemed to be in shock and kept saying he had to get going, but Stuckey told him he needed to get out of the car because he was worried about the sparks.
The man got out of the vehicle — and immediately, the car erupted in flames. A minute or so later, the car was completely engulfed. The whole incident happened very quickly.
Stuckey has been with Ward Trucking since 1977, and has been recognized many times for his exemplary safe driving history. His vigilance in seeking help for the driver of the sparking car, as well as convincing him to exit the vehicle, illustrates his strong character and integrity. If it had not been for Stuckey, the driver may have perished in the car fire.
Mark Giles of Point Blank, Texas, who drives for Decker Truck Line of Fort Dodge, Iowa, is being recognized for aiding a young woman after she was dumped behind the parking lot of a truck stop.
Giles pulled into a truck stop off Highway 59 near Domino, Texas, one evening in late December and parked in the back to do his post-trip inspection. As he was checking the back of his trailer, he happened to glance around and saw what looked like a body lying in the grass next to some trees. Alarmed, he rushed over.
“She looked like a young girl, maybe 12 years old,” he shared with TCA. “It looked like someone had dragged her back there behind another truck and left her. She was in a fetal position, facing away from me, with an arm over her face.”
The girl was breathing, but unresponsive. Giles ran back to his truck and called 911. He then hurried back to the girl to wait for help to arrive. When sheriff’s deputies arrived, they discovered the “girl” was actually a 28-year-old woman. Giles was horrified.
“She was just an itty bitty thing, and couldn’t have weighed more than 80 pounds,” he recalled. They managed to get her talking, but she was quite dazed and very weak. “She said she had ridden all the way from Ohio to Texas with one of the truck drivers parked nearby,” said Giles.
The deputies got the woman into an ambulance and took her to the hospital. Giles later talked with one of the officers, who told him the young woman likely wouldn’t have made it through the night if he hadn’t found her.
“I’m not the one who saved her life,” insisted Giles. “God did. All I did was make a phone call. I don’t normally go to that truck stop, but the good Lord sent me there (that night).”
Giles has been driving for 27 years.
“As truck drivers, we cover a lot of miles,” he said. “It makes you look around. We see (a lot of) things out there. There are a lot of people who can’t protect themselves. It takes so little to make a phone call to help someone. If anything comes out of this, I hope it’s that we help each other.”
Anthony Scerbo & Lee Thompson
Anthony Scerbo and Lee Thomson are being recognized for administering lifesaving CPR to a fellow truck driver who had a heart attack while driving.
York, Pennsylvania-based S&H Express’ Scerbo was in the middle of a shift on December 18, when he spotted an ASAP CDL Training Academy truck approaching him. Shelly Truck Driving School, an affiliate of S&H Express, has a contract to test ASAP’s CDL candidates and Thomson, a Shelly Truck Driving School Instructor, was testing an ASAP student driver.
Scerbo thought something was odd; then he noticed the ASAP truck was up on the sidewalk and saw Thomson’s hand motioning for him to stop.
“It’s amazing how quickly our brains process that something is very, very wrong,” Scerbo shared with TCA.
As Scerbo pulled alongside the ASAP truck, Thomson shouted that the CDL candidate he was testing had a heart attack while driving. Thomson had already called 911, and the dispatcher said to start CPR. Without hesitation, Scerbo hopped out of his truck and ran over to assist. Thomson unbuckled the student and flung open the door, and Scerbo pulled the man out of the truck and placed him gently onto the ground.
“I put the student on his back with his ankles crossed and arms out — crucifix position — with his head turned to the side,” recalled Scerbo. “The guy didn’t have a pulse and he wasn’t breathing, so I started chest compression.”
Scerbo couldn’t detect a heartbeat, so he continued CPR until emergency personnel took over a short time later. Thanks to quick thinking by Thomson and Scerbo, the student survived.
Bruce Stremmel, who lives in Macomb, Michigan, and drives for Tom Maceri and Son of Saint Clair Shores, Michigan, is being recognized for rescuing a fellow truck driver after a pre-dawn crash during a blinding snowstorm.
Just before 6 a.m. on January 7, in Benton Harbor, Michigan, Stremmel was driving his regular route from Detroit to Chicago, traveling westbound on Interstate 94. While dealing with low visibility because heavy snow, he encountered an accident. Another truck, heading eastbound on the same highway, had wrecked.
Stremmel pulled over, called the police, and ran to the crashed vehicle. The driver was severely injured and appeared to have a broken leg. Stremmel carefully extracted the man from the truck cab, helped him over the guard rail and into his own truck, where they waited for police.
A truck driver for over 17 years, Stremmel said he sensed the peril surrounding the encounter.
“It was a pretty dangerous night,” he said. “I was scared. I’m like, ‘We’re in a bad situation. If another truck loses control, we’re done.’”
Stremmel has been driving the Detroit to Chicago route for about nine years and said he has seen his share of accidents, but this was his first time assisting with a wreck.
“I didn’t think twice about doing it,” he shared with TCA, “I never thought about my own safety or anything.”
Jean-Carlo Gachet, who lives in Chester, Virginia, and drives for Abilene Motor Express of West Memphis, Arkansas, is being recognized for offering hot breakfast to motorists who were stranded along Interstate 95 near Stafford, Virginia, because of inclement weather and numerous crashes.
Gachet was one of hundreds of motorists stuck on I-95 on January 4, 2022, in a standstill that stretched for over 40 miles. A fast-falling snowstorm had resulted in jackknifed tractor-trailers and hundreds of other accident, leading to. Gachet came upon the traffic snarl around 1 a.m. while traveling to make a delivery in Georgia. He was concerned for the passengers in a car stuck near him in traffic.
“Truckers are ready for a week to a month at a time on the road, so we have plenty of resources,” Gachet shared with TCA. “No car was ready for that situation, and some were stuck more than 24 hours.”
Around 8 a.m., after sitting for more than seven hours, Gachet heated up a Jimmy Dean bacon, egg, and cheese breakfast bowl he had stored in his rig, made a cup of fruit punch, and walked over to the car to deliver the hot breakfast.
“They were shocked, and really thankful for the meal and the cup of juice that I offered them,” he said with a smile.
Gachet was filming the event on his smartphone and Tweeted the video, which received an overwhelming reaction. Within hours, media worldwide picked up the story, and even Jimmy Dean Foods chimed in.
Jimmy Dean Foods Tweeted: “This kindly act warmed our boots! Thanks for helping out your neighbor, Jean-Carlo. Since you gave breakfast to those in need, we’re giving you a year’s supply of Jimmy Dean breakfast and will #payitforward by giving 100K breakfasts to @FeedingAmerica in your name!”
Matthew Marchand, who lives in Ottawa, Canada, and drives for Premier Bulk Systems of Markham, Ontario, Canada, is also being recognized for providing emergency supplies to stranded motorists during January 3’s Interstate 95 standstill near Stafford, Virginia.
While trapped for over 13 hours on the road, Marchand got out of his truck and checked in with motorists near his vehicle. He found other travelers generally had fuel but were not prepared with food or water. As time went on, and day turned to night, Marchand went to sleep — but was awakened by a man whose wife and children were stranded in a Tesla automobile nearby.
“He asked me if I could charge his car,” said Marchand. He explained that his truck didn’t have the capabilities. The man asked for water, which Marchand supplied, and he gave the family two blankets as well.
“At least they had something to keep warm,” said Marchand, adding that he told the man if he and his family needed to be warmer, they were welcome to pile into his truck cab. Eventually, around 7:30 a.m. the next morning, the highway cleared and the Tesla, as well as Marchand, were able to drive away.
Robert Schuhl, who lives in Stockbridge, Georgia, and drives for ABF Freight System of Fort Smith, Arkansas, is being recognized for rushing to the aid of a UPS driver whose truck overturned.
On September 10, 2021, Schuhl was eastbound on Interstate 22 near Hamilton, Alabama, on his way to Atlanta when a UPS truck lost control and tipped over on its right side.
“It looked like the driver was making a left turn, but then the truck bounced and rolled over,” shared Schuhl.
Acting swiftly, he safely pulled over and ran over to the truck. Another motorist had also stopped. He and Schuhl climbed up on top of the overturned truck, where the motorist held the door open while Schuhl climbed inside. He first turned off the ignition and then maneuvered to help the driver, who was lying against the passenger door.
“Her head was bleeding, and she was dazed,” he recalled. “I told her we were there to help her and get her out of the vehicle. However, there was no way she would be able to stand up and get out through the top.”
Schuhl and the other motorist decided their best option was to kick out the broken windshield.
Another motorist, a nurse, stopped to help, about the same time a police officer arrived. They helped Schuhl and the motorist move the windshield out of the way, and the nurse advised on how to safely move the driver.
“We covered the driver’s face to protect her from the glass and lifted her just outside the vehicle,” shared Schuhl. “We didn’t want to move her any further.”
Another UPS driver stopped and helped comfort the injured driver until paramedics arrived.
Unfortunately, Schuhl wasn’t able to learn what caused the accident, but is relieved that the driver didn’t appear to have any serious injuries. Schuhl has been driving for 33 years.
Greg Vandal of Strathmore, Alberta, Canada, who drives for Bison Transport of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, is being recognized for helping a stranded motorist following a fire that destroyed his vehicle.
Vandal was bound for Calgary on the Trans-Canada Highway one morning in mid-December when he saw a vehicle on the shoulder with white smoke billowing around it.
“As I got closer, I could see flames where the gas tank would be,” he shared with TCA. He quickly prepared to pull over. “I grabbed my fire extinguisher, but by the time I got there, the fire was too far gone, and the fire extinguisher didn’t do much.”
Thankfully, the driver was out of the vehicle and unharmed. The man asked Vandal to break a back window so he could retrieve his suitcase. Vandal noticed the car’s New York license plates.
“The poor guy was out there in the middle of nowhere and it was very cold, maybe minus-20 degrees, and he wasn’t dressed for the occasion,” he said. Vandal invited him to sit in the cab to warm up. The fire department arrived and extinguished the fire, but not before it completely consumed the vehicle.
Vandal learned the motorist was driving from New York to Calgary for his goddaughter’s wedding, and that he had 400 miles to go. Vandal contacted Bison Transport to request permission for him to ride along with him to Calgary. The request was approved. The two men settled in for a long drive and got to know one another. Vandal asked him when the wedding was taking place.
“He looked at his watch and said, ‘right now.’ Well, that wasn’t going to happen for him,” said Vandal.
Although Vandal wouldn’t be able to get the man to church in time for the wedding, he knew he could probably get him to Calgary in time to catch part of the reception. Now the two men were on a mission.
“When we got to Calgary, I dropped my trailers at their location, dropped the tractor, and then we hopped in my car and I got him to the wedding reception,” Vandal said with a smile. The driver’s family warmly welcomed Vandal and invited him to join the party.
“They were very gracious, and kinda gave me a celebrity’s welcome,” shared Vandal. “It was a wonderful time. I met some really, really nice people.”
The two men have since become good friends.
Bison Transport received a note of thanks from the motorist. In part, he said, “Greg’s act of selflessness and spirit of goodness personifies what it is to be a hero and for that my family and I are incredibly grateful. When I look back on the events of 2021 … the only defining moment for me was when Greg and I crossed paths on a lone stretch of Canadian highway and instantly formed a lifelong bond and friendship.”
Elwood Blackstock of Eden, North Carolina, is being recognized for helping safely locate a missing elderly man described in a Silver Alert.
In early November, Blackstock, a driver with Best Logistics Group, was on Route 40, about 40 miles outside Wilmington, North Carolina. It was 3 a.m. when he received a Silver Alert about a missing elderly male. Blackstock soon spotted a driver and vehicle that matched the missing man’s description and called 911 to report the man’s location. Blackstock kept an eye on the man until police arrived and were then able to safely pull the driver over.
Blackstock has been a professional truck driver for six years, five of those with Best Cartage, one of three fleets at Best Logistics Group.
Director of Fleet Operations Rob Treadaway, shared with TCA, “We are incredibly grateful to have drivers like Elwood Blackstock on our team, who care about the community and go out of their way to ensure the safety of others.”
Greg Rupp of Leechburg, Pennsylvania, who drives for Ward Trucking of Altoona, Pennsylvania, is being recognized for stopping to help at the scene of a motorist who was struck while pushing his stalled vehicle.
It was around 5 a.m. one October morning in 2021 and Rupp, a parts delivery driver, was heading to the last stop of his route.
“I was on Route 40 outside of Brownsville (Pennsylvania),” he shared with TCA. “It’s kind of a rollercoaster-windy road. You have to be cautious in this area.”
That morning, as he drove down a hill toward a stop light, he slowed, checked his mirrors, and saw several cars behind him.
“When I looked at the traffic light again, I saw a car approaching the intersection from the opposite direction. It hit something in the road and sent it flying into the air,” he recalled. “I thought, ‘What did I just witness?’”
The car had hit a dark-colored Jeep that was stopped in the road.
“It didn’t have any lights on — no headlights, no four-ways,” said Rupp. As it turns out, the Jeep had broken down and the driver was attempting to push it to the side of the road.
“Someone else had stopped to help when the driver of the Jeep was struck by the oncoming car. He hit the driver’s corner of the Jeep and spun it off the road,” he added. “What I saw flying in the air was a person. It was terrible.”
Rupp shared that without its lights on, the Jeep wasn’t visible in the darkness. He grabbed his phone and called 911. He then maneuvered his truck to the side of the road, grabbed his vest and flashlight, and ran to the scene.
“There were two other people already with the victim, talking to him,” said Rupp.
He took action to direct traffic around the scene so no one else would be hit. It wasn’t long before a trooper and first responders arrived. Rupp remained on the scene to talk with the investigating officers. Sadly, he learned the injured driver died a few days later.
Matthew Lawson, who lives in Kernersville, North Carolina, and drives for CalArk International of Little Rock, Arkansas, is being recognized for rushing to pull a man out of his vehicle after it veered down an embankment next to a river.
As a truck driver for nearly 20 years, there have been many times Lawson has pulled over to help motorists who were stopped on the side of the road. But one incident in October required him to go above and beyond. He was leaving Mountain City, Tennessee, on Highway 91 around 1 a.m. when he saw a vehicle swerve off the road and topple over an embankment, headed straight for the river.
Lawson pulled over, then climbed down the embankment, opened the driver’s door, and found that the driver, a man in his early 20s, was unconscious.
“I reached down and took his foot off the gas pedal so the wheels would stop spinning,” said Lawson. “The tires were digging into the dirt. I didn’t feel safe leaving him in the vehicle because if it dislodged from the tree it would go into the river.”
Lawson carefully leaned the driver back, put his arms around him and lifted him out of car and onto the river bank.
“I readjusted my grip around his hips and waist and began to climb the hill to pull him to safety,” he recalled, adding that he had nearly crested the hill when the driver began to struggle. “I assured him that I had him and everything was OK — that there had been an accident and I was trying to get him to safety.”
The driver said he could walk so Lawson helped him up to the road and toward his truck. He then called for help and waited for first responders to arrive.
“I don’t know what caused him to go off the road,” said Lawson. “He couldn’t say much. I could tell he had a concussion. I tried to get him in my truck to get him warm, but he couldn’t make the climb, and sat on the step instead.
“My mother was a nurse and I’ve always followed what she’s said about head injuries,” he continued. “I kept talking to him as we waited for the first responders.”
After they arrived, Lawson went back to the vehicle and retrieved the driver’s phone. “He wanted to call his folks,” he added.
Melissa Bencivengo of Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey, a driver with Carbon Express based in Wharton, New Jersey, was recognized for stopping at the scene of a three-vehicle accident after she saw a driver lose control.
It was rush hour on September 7 as Bencivengo drove along Interstate 280 near Newark, New Jersey. She had just dropped off a trailer, and traffic was heavy. Bencivengo watched as a car in front of her sped up and began moving sporadically.
“It looked like she was trying to weave in and out of the traffic ahead of her,” recalled Bencivengo. “She cut to the right and rear-ended a Jeep, which spun her into the left lane. Then she bounced off another car, hit the Jeep again, careened out of control, crashed into a concrete barrier on the right side, did a 180, and ended up blocking both lanes.”
Bencivengo carefully positioned her cab at a 45-degree angle to block both lanes of traffic behind her. She put on her four-ways, grabbed her emergency kit, and ran to assist the driver of the first vehicle.
Bencivengo quickly assessed the woman’s condition, noting that she was able to stand and walk. Another motorist stayed with her while Bencivengo checked on the other drivers. The driver of the Jeep and his son had minor injuries, and the driver of the third vehicle wasn’t hurt.
By this time, traffic was backed up for miles. The interstate had concrete barriers on each side, and there was no way for emergency vehicles to get to the scene.
“We had to open up the lane,” said Bencivengo. The car was inoperable, and the tow strap was broken. “Someone suggested bouncing the car to move it.”
Bencivengo recruited three other truck drivers and three bystanders to help “bounce” the vehicle on its own suspension to shift its position; eventually, they were able to move it completely out of the way. Bencivengo repositioned her truck, leaving enough room for emergency vehicles and a tow truck to pull in. Then she directed traffic, narrowly avoiding being struck by one vehicle, until police officers arrived.
The tow truck driver and EMTs who arrived on the scene thanked Bencivengo for making the scene safe for them to get in and do their jobs.
Bencivengo trained to be a junior firefighter when she was just 15 years old, and learned how to secure and assess a scene. She is also a certified nurse’s aide, which helped her when assessing the condition of those involved in the accident.
The Truckload Authority News Staff, comprised of award winning journalists and graphic artists, produces content for Truckload Authority, working in cooperation with the Truckload Carriers Association staff. Truckload Authority aims to keep TCA members abreast on the latest trends in the trucking industry as well as articles that feature TCA member executives and drivers. The Truckload Authority staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.