Drivers for TCA carriers are making a difference on the roadways, one life at a time. Professional truck drivers Thaddeus Paulson, James “Neil” Chandler, and Angela Crager have been named Highway Angels by the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) for their acts of heroism while on the road.
Paulson, who lives in Duluth, Minnesota, and drives for Halvor Lines, Inc., helped rescue a man and his grandfather after their truck crashed into a ditch on a snowy Iowa highway.
Chandler, who is from Anniston, Alabama, and drives for Bison USA, provided aid following a fatal head-on collision.
Crager, a resident of Oklahoma City who drives for Decker Truck Lines, stopped to help a driver extinguish a fire that had broken out on a load of hay bales.
In recognition of these drivers’ willingness to help fellow drivers and motorists, TCA has presented each Highway Angel with a certificate, a lapel pin, patches, and truck decals. Their employers have also received a certificate highlighting their driver as a recipient.
Since the inception of the program in 1997, nearly 1,300 professional truck drivers have been recognized as Highway Angels because of the exemplary kindness, courtesy, and courage they have displayed while on the job. TCA extends 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 Angel award recipients, visit highwayangel.org.
Thaddeus Paulson — Halvor Lines, Inc., Superior, Wisconsin
Just before Christmas 2022 — on December 23, in fact — Thaddeus Paulson was traveling east on U.S. Highway 20 just outside Iowa Falls, Iowa, at around
10 a.m. The ground was blanketed in snow, and there were patches of ice on the road.
Suddenly, he saw a Chevrolet Silverado pickup, which was traveling in the opposite direction, hit a patch of black ice, spin out, and slide into a ditch.
“The only thing that probably saved their lives, probably, was how deep the snow was,” Paulson said. “Or they would’ve been crushed.”
Paulson quickly but safely pulled his rig to the side of the road and approached the vehicle to offer assistance. In the truck, he found a man and his grandfather. The older man was frail, and was unable to exit the vehicle and walk to the roadside.
“The old man couldn’t walk — he had injuries,” Paulson said. “He was covered in blood.”
The driver told Paulson his grandfather was experiencing heart issues; the two were en route to the hospital when the accident occurred. The two worked together to get the older man safely out of the truck.
“I helped carry the 80-year-old man out of the vehicle that was flipped over and up the hill through waist-deep snow to a heated vehicle, and (we) waited for responders to arrive,” Paulson said.
Once emergency responders arrived at the scene, Paulson notified the law enforcement officers that he had captured the incident on his dash cam, and that the video would be available if needed.
Emergency personnel attended to the injured crash victim, and Paulson continued safely along his route.
Angela Crager — Decker Truck Lines, Fort Dodge, Iowa
At about 6:30 p.m. on October 28, 2022, Angela Crager was headed home for the day. She was traveling south on Interstate 35 in Guthrie, Oklahoma, when she saw a truck loaded with hay bales that had caught on fire.
“Nobody was stopping to help them,” she said, “I thought, ‘Trucks have fire extinguishers for a reason.’”
Crager quickly and safely pulled over, called 911, and proceeded to help extinguish the fire.
“I kinda took over the situation,” she said. “I was like, ‘You’re gonna want to disconnect your truck from your trailer, so if (the hay) really ignites you can save your truck and fuel source.’”
Crager, who has a professional truck driver for six years, remained on the scene until police and firefighters arrived. At that point, the hay was still on fire.
She says that people like herself, from Oklahoma, look for ways to help others.
“It’s bred into us or something, to help out,” she said.
James “Neil” Chandler — Bison USA, Amherst, Wisconsin
At about 5:30 a.m. on October 12, 2022, James “Neil” Chandler was driving south on Interstate 65 near Cave City, Kentucky. During that dark pre-dawn trip, he encountered a serious accident on the highway.
“A quick fog came up, and then everyone slammed on their brakes,” he said. A car crossed the center line, into oncoming traffic, and crashed head-on into another vehicle.
Chandler, along with and several other trucks, safely pulled over, called 911, and then tried to help the occupants of the two cars. Having spent 16 years serving in the Army and Navy, Chandler’s training instinctively kicked in, and he went to work at the scene.
When he checked the car that had been hit, he found a female driver and two teenage children. All three appeared to be injured, and they wanted to get out of the vehicle. However, Chandler saw that the woman was pinned in the car and might have to be cut out. He worked to keep the three calm before moving on to the second vehicle.
As he approached the car that had crossed the center line, Chandler saw that the entire left side of the vehicle was destroyed, and the driver was dead.
“I hate that I couldn’t do anything,” Chandler said. He went back to the car with the mother and children in it and kept the family calm until emergency vehicles arrived.
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.