Professional truck drivers Mark Outen, Amos Thurman, and the late Adam “Troy” Miller and the late Ashish Patel, have been named Highway Angels by the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) for their acts of heroism while on the road. For their willingness to assist fellow drivers and motorists, TCA has presented each Highway Angel with a certificate, a patch, a lapel pin, and truck decals. Their employers have also received a certificate acknowledging their driver as a Highway Angel. Special thanks to the program’s presenting sponsor, EpicVue, and supporting sponsor, DriverFacts.
To nominate a driver or meet additional Highway Angels recipients, visit highwayangel.org.
Mark Outen, who lives in West Jefferson, North Carolina, and drives for Hirschbach Motor Lines of Dubuque, Iowa, was honored for rushing to the aid of a man who was injured while working on a truck axle.
Outen was pulling into a rest area near Grain Valley, Missouri, one day in late August 2021, when he noticed someone from a truck service company working on the rear axle of a trailer.
“I pulled up and parked out of the way to give him plenty of room,” shared Outen. A moment later he heard a loud bang. “It was like a shotgun going off,” he said. “I looked around and saw a guy on the ground holding his stomach.”
It turned out that the service technician was working on a faulty pressure valve, and a part of the axle blew off, striking him in the stomach.
Outen rushed over to the man.
“He had what looked like a two-ring mark or impression where the piece hit him, and his stomach was already turning blue from the force of the object,” he recalled. “It was shocking. I thought maybe his intestines were damaged and he had internal bleeding.”
Outen, who used to work as a diesel mechanic, said he had never seen an axle fall apart like that.
The driver of the trailer also rushed over and helped Outen lay the injured man down on the ground.
“While he called 911, I called my wife, who is a nurse, to see what we should do to keep him comfortable,” Outen shared with TCA. “She told me to move him out of the sun and put something under his head, and to not give him any water at that point.”
First responders arrived about 15 minutes later, and Outen helped get the man on the gurney.
The man’s wife reached out to Outen via Facebook to thank him for his help.
“They kept him overnight for observation and then he was able to go home,” he said, adding that he’s relieved the man wasn’t seriously injured. “I didn’t do anything heroic that day. Sometimes you just need to step up and help your fellow human being.”
Amos Thurman, who lives in Homer Glen, Illinois and drives for ABF Freight System of Fort Smith, Arkansas, was honored for helping a woman and her two daughters after their vehicle overturned into a ditch.
Thurman shared that he’s come across many bad traffic accidents during his 40 years as a truck driver. Some have taken place right in front of him. This was the case one evening in September when he was traveling near Festus, Missouri.
“I was coming up (U.S. Highway) 67 and saw an SUV in the left lane, switching lanes,” shared Thurman. “She lost control while making the lane change and went right off the road. She went into the ditch and then up in the air and then flipped over.”
Without hesitation, Thurman safely pulled over and jumped out to help. When he reached the overturned SUV, he found that all the doors were jammed shut. Inside, a mother and her two daughters were still in their seat belts and hanging upside down. Another motorist stopped to help. The two of them struggled to open the doors.
“We wanted to get them out in case there was a fire,” said Thurman. Eventually, he was able to pry one of the doors open. “The mother was in the driver’s seat, and she had one daughter in the front seat and one in the back seat,” he shared.
Thurman and the other motorist were able to free the 16-year-old girl in the back seat. However, he couldn’t reach the younger girl in the front seat.
“I wanted to cut the mother’s seat belt to get them out, but she said she didn’t want me to,” he said. Thurman calmed the woman and told her he would stay with them until first responders arrived.
“I’m glad everyone was OK and able to go on with their lives,” he shared with TCA.
Sadly, Thurman lost his own sister in a traffic accident a few days later when she was struck by a drunk driver. He said he will always stop to help when he can, and he hopes that others will as well.
ADAM “TROY” MILLER and ASHISH PATEL
The Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) has posthumously recognized Adam “Troy” Miller, 53, of Hagerstown, Maryland, and Ashish Patel, 46, of Ontario, Canada, as Highway Angels for stopping to help at the scene of a serious accident.
According to a police report, there were two crashes near the entrance ramp to Interstate 81 about 7:20 a.m. Thursday, July 1 in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. There had been heavy rain earlier that morning. The first crash occurred when two passenger cars lost control, hydroplaned, and drove through the grassy median, striking a parked tractor-trailer and getting wedged underneath the trailer. Several motorists, including Miller and Patel, stopped to help.
As they did so, a third vehicle, an SUV, also lost control in the same area, struck the rear of the parked tractor-trailer, and then hit Patel and Miller. Both men died at the scene. Miller was a professional truck driver with Portner Trucking based in Thurmont, Maryland, and Patel drove for Bison Transport based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Miller’s widow, Julie, shared with TCA that her husband had a 28-year career as a professional truck driver and was on his way to work that morning. She wasn’t surprised that he had stopped to help.
“He was an excellent driver,” she said. “He could put a big rig in the smallest space I’ve ever seen in my life. He took his job very seriously. And he always pulled over to help someone.”
Miller leaves behind children Kristina N. Judkins (Miller), Joshua A. Miller, Brandon C. Miller, stepson Joshua A. Mills, and grandson, Maveric M. Miller. Miller loved fishing, working on muscle cars, and playing 8-ball and 9-ball pool.
“He was a diehard, fall-over Pittsburgh Steelers fan, the only one in the family,” she said. “He was easy to smile, easy to laugh. He would do anything for anybody.”
Patel’s widow, Shilpa, shared that her husband enjoyed being a professional truck driver and always accepted challenges that came his way. He didn’t speak English at first when he moved to Canada from India in 2010.
He drove for Bison Transport for four years. In 2019, he received a Safe Driver Award for 250,000 miles of safe driving.
“He helped others get their licenses and learn about the job,” she said. “He always encouraged people. He always shared the good points about the driving life. If someone was looking for a job, they would ask Ashish. He said, ‘If you are young, drive a truck; it will help you have a long road for your life.’”
Patel leaves behind a 7-year-old daughter, Vishwa.
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.