Professional truck drivers Kyle Fitzgerald, Paul Hopson, William Lyons, and Steve Marcy have been named Highway Angels by the Truckload Carriers Association for performing heroic actions while on the job.
Kyle Fitzgerald & William Lyons
Fitzgerald and Lyons, professional truck drivers with Smokey Point Distributing, were honored for their orchestrated efforts to divert traffic away from a disabled vehicle in the middle of a busy interstate.
It was just after noon on Sept. 19, 2019, and Fitzgerald and Lyons were traveling through Michigan on Interstate 75 with a set of airplane wings destined for Toronto. Lyons was carrying one wing and Fitzgerald followed with the second. They were accompanied by four pilot vehicles. The first pilot was traveling a quarter mile ahead of the team. As the pilot came over a slight hill, he radioed the team that there was a two-vehicle accident ahead. A small car was stopped in the middle lane and a box truck was pulled over to the right shoulder. The pilot driver instructed the team to move to the left lane and shoulder. As the pilot driver slowed and went around the accident. he noticed the driver was still in the vehicle and no one was stopping to help.
Lyons and Fitzgerald decided they should stop. The team would later learn that the accident had happened less than a minute before they arrived. The small car had rear-ended the box truck. “Traffic had not even begun to slow down around the wreck,” shared Fitzgerald. “We pulled to the left shoulder, short of the accident scene.”
“People were flying by,” recalled Lyons. “There was debris all over the road and because of the location, it was a bigger accident just waiting to happen. Kyle’s two pilot drivers turned on their overhead directional lights to move traffic around the accident and then helped direct traffic,” said Lyons. “My two pilot drivers and I went to check on the drivers as Kyle called 911.”
Within minutes, the ambulance and fire department were on scene. When the state patrol officers arrived, they shut down the highway long enough for the team to safely leave the scene. “According to my logbook, our total time on the scene was 12 minutes,” said Fitzgerald, adding that at no time were the loads in the flow of traffic or in harm’s way. Both men credit their pilot teams for the way they handled the situation: Veronica Nutt and Steve Sanders with T&H Pilot Car Services of Verden, Oklahoma; Larry Morris with S.J. Pilot Car Service of West Memphis, Arkansas; and Mike Froncisz with Veteran Pilot Services Ltd. of Ontario, Canada.
“The Lord used us that day to make sure nobody else got hurt,” shared Lyons.
Hopson, a professional truck driver with Stone Trucking Co., was honored for stopping to help a seriously injured motorist found sitting outside his vehicle on the side of the roadway.
Hopson was just outside Waco, Texas, on Highway 6, a major highway. It was about 5 p.m. on Sept. 20, 2019, and traffic was backed up for over half a mile.
“There was a lot of CB chatter about a guy sitting outside his pickup on the side of the road, bleeding,” shared Hopson. “I get up there and there must have been hundreds of cars and trucks (that time of day) and everyone just passed him up.” Without hesitation, Hopson pulled over. “A lady pulled over behind me. Turned out she was a former EMT,” he said. “The guy looked like he must have been sitting there quite a while, in the heat, and people just passed by.” The man was still conscious and bleeding heavily from what appeared to be a gunshot wound to the face. Hopson called 911 and then gave the phone to the woman to explain the situation to the dispatcher.
“She looked in the cab and said, ‘gun’ and we both stepped back. There was a gun sitting on the floorboard.” Within a matter of minutes, two or three police cars arrived along with two ambulances and a fire truck. “They loaded him into the ambulance right away.”
Hopson called the Waco Police Department a couple days later and learned the driver had passed away. “I kept thinking about him,” shared Hopson. “I had just wanted him to know he wasn’t alone. It’s bad enough when a person passes away, but when they’re in a situation like that and they’re alone, that’s a hard way to go. Nobody would stop, they only talked about it (on the CB).”
Hopson has driven professionally for more than 30 years. He’s come across many accidents and has stopped to help when he can.
Marcy, a professional truck driver with ABF Freight System, Inc., was honored for stopping to help at the scene of a collision between a tractor-trailer and passenger van.
It was a cold and blustery November day and Marcy was southbound from Indiana on his way to Nashville, Tennessee. The blowing snow was limiting visibility and the roadway was becoming icy with the temperature below zero. Already driving well under the posted speed limit, the poor visibility forced Marcy to slow to a stop.
That’s when he saw a tractor-trailer up ahead of him, sitting across both southbound lanes. The driver had lost control and a full-size passenger van had hit the side of the trailer. Acting swiftly, Marcy set his brakes, turned on his flashers, and rushed to the scene. The driver of the van was disoriented, and his wife was in the passenger seat, unconscious. The driver of the truck came over to check on the passengers. Another motorist stopped to help and began to gather blankets to warm them.
The van had bounced off the trailer and was now sitting at a 45-degree angle to the truck. The right front corner post of the van was damaged and the passenger door was jammed. The windshield and right window were shattered. The driver was disoriented and extremely upset at the truck driver for causing the accident. Marcy distracted him by urging him to call 911 for an ambulance. He then worked to squeeze into the wreckage to check on the passenger.
“They hit hard,” said Marcy. “The passenger was knocked unconscious and was slumped to the left over the console and bleeding from her head and mouth.” As the woman regained consciousness she asked what had happened and said her back was hurting.
“She was slumped over in a crooked position out of her seat with her seatbelt on,” recalled Marcy. He carefully helped her to sit upright and then held her in place, assuring her help was on the way. He stayed with her, talking to her and offering her comfort until EMTs arrived approximately 27 minutes later. Marcy says he’s come across many accidents in the 18 years he has driven for ABF and is happy he was able to help that day.
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.