Professional truck drivers Michael Maines, Daniel Worm, Scott Nowell, Binyam Tadele, Mike Rivera, Grant Quinton, Larry Williams, Zach Yeakley, Stephen Carlin, Mike Pagel, Christopher Hight, Tony Barton, Kenichi Tanisaki, Royford Burris and Shawna Lewis 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 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 drivers’ acknowledging their driver as a recipient. 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 Angels award recipients, visit highwayangel.org.
MICHAEL MAINES & DANIEL WORM
Michael Maines and Daniel Worm were recognized for using their medical backgrounds to assist seriously injured passengers during a car crash last September in Louisville, Kentucky.
On September 24, 2021, Maines and Worm, both drivers for Melton Truck Lines, had just left a truck stop, driving their respective trucks, and were heading toward Louisville. At one point, traffic was slowed because of road construction.
Approaching the slowdown, Maines saw a white van swerve out of the way to avoid hitting a semitruck; however, this maneuver caused a third vehicle, a Jeep, to run off the road and flip over onto the guard rails. Behind the van was a car, which proceeded to crash full speed into the semitruck. An elementary school-age girl was thrown from the passenger window in the crash.
Maines stopped his truck and raced to help.
“I was in the military and so I knew how to do triage,” said Maines, referring to his eight years in the Air Force. “I ran out and checked everybody real quick. The young girl that was laying on the street … she had a major head injury.”
Another passerby pulled a boy, the girl’s brother, out of the back of the car, Maines shared with TCA. The boy was conscious and talking. The vehicle’s driver, the father of the two children, regained consciousness, Maines added, and was eventually pulled from the wreckage by first responders using the jaws of life.
Without hesitation, Worm, who was behind Maines in traffic, also stopped to assist. After gaining years of experience with a Michigan fire department and EMS team, Worm has extensive training on how to respond during a medical emergency. He quickly focused on the seriously injured girl who was lying on the road.
“I went to work and started treating that girl,” Worm recalled. “She was in critical condition. I stayed right with her until the EMS got there.”
Meanwhile, Maines was communicating with law enforcement at the scene. Both truck drivers stayed at the accident site to assist the police and paramedics.
Scott Nowell, who drives for Melton Truck Lines, is being recognized for rescuing several people who were injured in a three-car collision and staying with the victims until help arrived.
Nowell was driving along Route 235 in Ozark, Alabama, last fall when he saw a driver run a red traffic light, causing a three-vehicle collision. A truck was involved, as well as a cargo van that flipped during the accident, rolling off to the right.
The first car, driven by a teenage boy, was pushed off the road and down a ravine. Nowell and another passerby, a nurse, first went to the van and broke the windshield to rescue the victims.
“I was right there and pulled the two guys out of the van, and then went over to the car and did first aid and CPR on the kid in the car,” recalled Nowell, adding that the boy’s car was “mangled up pretty bad.” A former volunteer first responder in his hometown, Nowell had received first aid training.
The severely injured young driver was life-flighted from the scene but survived, Nowell said, as did the other drivers and passengers. Nowell stayed at the scene to assist the EMTs and police, giving his account of the accident.
At the time of the incident, Nowell was still a “newbie” to the trucking industry. He began his truck driving career in May 2021 after leaving work in the hospitality industry. He has also been recognized by his company after helping crash victims at an accident scene in Louisiana earlier in 2021.
“How I look at it is, what if that was somebody I knew — my mom, my dad, my brother, a close friend of mine?” said Nowell. “I would hope someone would stop to help them.”
Binyam Tadele, who lives in Baltimore, Maryland, is being recognized for spotting a fire under a car, extinguishing it, and getting the driver safely out of the vehicle. He has been driving for Schofield Transport, an independent affiliate of Quality Carriers, for more than four years.
Recently he was driving from Baltimore to Shippensburg on Interstate 70. It was a weekday, between 7 and 8 a.m., and he was moving slowly through fog when he noticed a car that appeared to have flames coming from beneath it.
“As I’m passing, the flame started getting bigger,” Tadele shared. He continued to watch the car, which was pulled over, in his mirror. “The flame got worse, and the people were not coming out.”
Without a moment to spare, Tadele safely pulled over, grabbed a fire extinguisher, and ran back to the smoldering car. A woman, wearing hospital scrubs, was alone in the car. He yelled at her, “Hey! Your car’s on fire! You gotta get out!”
The woman, unaware of the fire, exited the vehicle and called 911, and Tadele proceeded to extinguish the fire. He says he’s glad he saw the fire when it was “still small — it could have been worse for her.”
Tadele stayed with the woman until emergency crews arrived to assist.
Mike Rivera of Newport, Tennessee, who drives for R.E. Garrison Trucking, is being recognized for stopping to rescue a fellow truck driver after his tanker truck flipped.
One night last fall, Rivera was driving his truck north on Route 301 just outside Gainesville, Florida, with his 12-year-old son, Nathan as a passenger. A tanker truck was approaching them in the opposite lane, heading south. As the tanker passed through an intersection, a car ran a red traffic light into the path of the tanker. The tanker truck driver swerved in an effort to avoid hitting the car, but despite the driver’s efforts, the car was struck.
“(The tanker driver) rolled his truck, and he came and slid across in front of our truck,” recalled Rivera. “I hit the brakes and the truck came to a stop. I jumped out and went and mule-kicked the windshield — broke it — and we got the driver out.”
Rivera said the driver had bumps and bruises but walked away from the accident. Once the driver was extracted from the truck, Rivera and other bystanders ran to the car the truck had hit to check on the driver, a young woman. Rivera said she was not seriously injured.
Once police arrived, Rivera said, “we even helped to block in some of the traffic for the Sheriff’s Department.”
Rivera is no stranger to putting himself in harm’s way to help others. He has been a volunteer firefighter in Grassy Fork, Tennessee, since he was 16, and received medical training when he was in the Army.
“It was no big deal,” shared Rivera. “This is what we’re supposed to do as drivers. We’re the unsung heroes out here.”
Grant Quinton, who lives in Noble, Oklahoma, and drives for Decker Truck Line, is being recognized for rescuing a man and his 10-year-old grandson from their overturned vehicle and keeping them safe until authorities arrived.
On Sunday, February 6, 2022, at about 7 a.m., Quinton was sitting in the passenger seat of his truck while training another Decker Truck Line driver. A snowstorm had just passed through that area of Oklahoma, and the pair were driving north on Interstate 35 near Tonkawa when they came upon an overturned Dodge Ram pickup truck.
Apparently, the pickup truck had a blowout, the vehicle rolled, and no other vehicles had stopped to help. Quinton’s trainee safely pulled the truck over to the shoulder of the road, and Quinton got out to help.
As he approached the overturned vehicle, he heard thumping, so he quickly ran back to his truck to retrieve a rubber mallet. Moments later, he returned to the accident scene while calling 911.
“I was able to help get them out of the truck,” he shared. “It was a 10-year-old boy and a grandpa, and I got them across the street behind my semi.”
Quinton’s goal was to get the accident victims to the safest place possible. He offered them water and blankets, and kept checking on the welfare of the child, who appeared to have a concussion. Emergency crews arrived and took over.
“Just do what’s right,” Quinton said regarding why he stopped at the accident scene. “I’m gonna stay on the road for the rest of my life. If I have the chance to do a job that I really like, see a bunch of places, and I also have a chance where somebody’s in trouble and nobody’s there and I can help them, that’s worth being gone and doing this job.”
Larry Williams of Linden, Alberta, Canada, who drives for Bison Transport, is being recognized for stopping to help a driver whose vehicle had flipped twice in 6-degree weather.
On March 8, 2022, Williams was driving on Highway 1 just west of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, when he saw a Dodge Ram pickup truck fishtail on the road and flip twice before landing in a ditch. Williams safely pulled his truck over about three-quarters of a mile past the accident.
It was just his luck that he had no cellphone reception, Williams recalls, but he was able to flag down a passing motorist who called 911 and then gave Williams their phone. Williams ran back to the scene of the accident while talking to the 911 dispatch, who transferred him to the ambulance dispatch.
Once he arrived at the accident scene, Williams discovered that all the vehicle airbags had been deployed and the windows blown out. The driver, a 56-year-old man, was trying to climb out of the truck.
“He just looked at me and said, ‘What the heck happened?’ He was in shock and shaking and whatnot,” recalled Williams. “I asked him to sit down and relax; then I ran back to the truck and I grabbed a wool sleeping bag.”
Williams then returned to the accident scene and wrapped the dazed driver to shield him from the elements. Emergency personnel arrived soon afterward and tended to the driver.
Zach Yeakley, who lives in Batesville, Arkansas, and drives for CFI, is being recognized for rescuing six crash victims from a deadly chain-reaction crash that occurred in dense fog and involved nearly 50 vehicles.
On March 17, 2022, around 8:15 a.m., Yeakley was driving on Interstate 57 and had just crossed the state border into Charleston, Missouri. He heard on his CB radio that there was an accident up ahead; then he noticed smoke and saw a man wearing a safety vest flagging down drivers to alert them to the accident.
When Yeakley arrived at the scene, he discovered a fire-filled, chain-reaction crash, in dense fog, that involved more than 45 vehicles. He immediately pulled over and jumped into action.
“I went up there; they already had a couple people out,” he recalled. “Some people had some broken arms, one had a collapsed lung, a few broken ribs from the impact.”
Yeakley, a 15-year member of the Army National Guard, is trained as a combat lifesaver and quickly assessed the severity of the scene, surveying the situation so he could share information with the paramedics when they arrived.
He recalls that fire was spreading in the crashed vehicles, and tires were exploding all around them because of the fire.
“There was one guy trapped in his truck,” he said. “So, me, a sheriff, a state trooper, and a FedEx driver, we did what we could to get him out.”
Yeakley and the group was able to pry the dashboard off of another trapped crash victim and rescue him from his vehicle. The flames, he said, were surrounding them. Once the crash victim was rescued from his truck, Yeakley and a sheriff ran back to the scene to try to rescue the driver of a car trapped between a truck and a trailer, also surrounded by flames.
“By the time we got there, the fire had gotten into the car,” he said.
In total that day, Yeakley helped rescue six crash victims from several vehicles. Police reported at least six fatalities from the fiery crash. Yeakley, who has been driving a truck for four years, says he wouldn’t hesitate to jump back into the fire again to rescue drivers, crediting his military training for preparing him for the experience.
Stephen Carlin of Clayton, North Carolina, is being recognized for rescuing a couple from an overturned truck. Carlin drives for Melton Truck Lines based in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
On February 8, 2022, around 7 a.m., Carlin was driving east on Interstate 10 near Benton, Mississippi. As he approached the end of a construction zone, Carlin saw the steer tire of a truck directly in front of him suddenly veer off the roadway and into some dirt. Soon after, the driver overcorrected and rolled the truck.
Carlin quickly sprang into action.
“I blocked all lanes of traffic, jumped out, got up to the truck — of course it was on its side,” he said. “[The man] had a head injury and his wife had been sleeping in the back.”
Shortly thereafter, another driver stopped to help. Carlin shared that, as the couple was trapped in the overturned truck, he and the other bystander smashed open the windshield to help extract them.
As a former police officer, Carlin is no stranger to accident scenes. He noticed the man was going into shock and seemed dazed, so he quickly ran to his truck to retrieve foil blankets to keep both the man and woman warm until emergency personnel could assist. It took almost 30 minutes for responders to arrive.
When the accident occurred, Carlin had been driving a truck less than a year. A former member of the U.S. Marine Corps, he had been trained in basic first aid.
As to why Carlin stopped at the accident scene, he said, “Somebody’s gotta stop. It’s just in my nature.”
Mike Pagel of Boca Raton, Florida, who drives for Koleaseco, Inc., is being recognized for coming to the aid of a young motorist who sustained injuries following a vehicle rollover.
On the afternoon of March 24, 2022, Pagel was driving on Interstate 80 near the village of Potter, Nebraska, when he saw a pickup truck veer off the side of the road, overcompensate, and swerve back across traffic.
Seconds later, Pagel watched as the vehicle rolled several times before landing off the roadway, coming to a rest on its passenger side. Pagel safely pulled to the shoulder, dialed 911, and then ran to the mangled truck.
“He didn’t know what happened,” Pagel said of the pickup’s driver. “He wasn’t moving at all when I first got to him.”
Pagel crawled into the truck with the man, and noticed he had bad gashes on his head and neck and was bleeding from his mouth. Though Pagel has no formal medical training, he attempted to hold the driver still because he wasn’t certain whether the man had suffered a spinal injury.
“I was kind of in an awkward position because a lot of the windows were smashed out and the roof was kind of compromised, so I was just trying to keep him from hurting himself even more,” he said.
Nearly 30 minutes later, emergency responders arrived, but Pagel continued to help, holding the driver steady as the rescuers worked to cut the roof from the vehicle.
“I had my arm resting underneath his head, holding his head off some metal that had been torn — it was sharp,” Pagel recalled.
The emergency personnel were impressed with Mike’s efforts to help others at the scene.
“I’ve been in EMS for 21 years, and Mike is one of only a handful of people I’ve witnessed help as much as he did. We could definitely use more people like him,” said Jason Teters, a first responder at the scene.
The driver was eventually pulled from the vehicle and is recovering.
Christopher Hight of Mesa, Arizona, is being recognized for rescuing a trapped mother and her baby following an accident with an 18-wheeler. Hight drives for Melton Truck Lines based in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
In the fall of 2021, Hight was driving late one afternoon on Highway 35 in Texas, between Laredo and Dallas, when suddenly, he saw a truck strike the back of a car ahead of him. There was a tire in the road, and Hight believes the car swerved to miss the tire but unsafely veered into the truck’s lane.
“I saw a big ball of dust, and when it cleared, I saw a car that was smashed completely,” Hight shared. He safely and quickly pulled his truck over to the shoulder to offer assistance. The truck that hit the car also stopped. Hight recalled that the fellow truck driver was able to safely exit of his cab, as he suffered no injuries.
“The trunk (of the car) was actually pushed up against the driver’s seat,” said Hight. “Inside all that, there was a baby in there.”
Hight said the driver, the baby’s mother, suffered some injuries but was able to climb out of the car once Hight peeled back pieces of metal. She was screaming, worried about the safety of her baby boy in the back seat.
“I jumped over there and started trying to get the baby out,” said Hight. “We started peeling the metal back and stuff off the roof and all around.”
After what seemed like hours, Hight said, he and another bystander were able to retrieve the baby from the car and place it into the arms of his mother. The only visible injury to the child was a bloody lip.
Once the mother was reunited with her baby boy, she held up the child to show the driver of the truck that had struck her that he was okay.
“The driver fell down on his knees and started crying, and I started crying,” shared Hight. “When it comes to kids getting hurt, I just can’t deal with it.”
Thankfully, neither the mother nor child suffered serious injuries.
Hight is the father of six children, and he had been driving a truck for around eight months when the accident took place.
“They needed help,” Hight said about why he stopped. “I hope someone helps me if something happens with me.”
Tony Barton, who lives in Blountville, Tennessee, is being recognized for using his truck to shield and protect a vehicle and driver that had crashed during a late-afternoon accident. Barton drives for FTC Transportation, Inc., based in Oklahoma City.
On April 21, 2022, at 4:45 p.m., Barton was driving through Nashville, Tennessee, on Interstate 440 when he noticed a black BMW SUV fishtailing.
Within moments, the driver lost control and ran head-on into a concrete barrier. Barton watched as the vehicle rolled over completely, landing back on its wheels, and coming to a rest right next to his truck.
Barton immediately stopped.
“I didn’t want to T-bone this woman that just rolled her car,” he shared. “It was right in the middle of the road.”
He quickly dialed 911 and rushed to check on the motorist.
Once Barton reached the crashed vehicle, he found the woman conscious and talking, but she was in pain and seemed confused. He kept his rig parked in the middle of the interstate to block and protect the vehicle from being hit by oncoming traffic until emergency responders arrived.
“I wanted to block the lane so nobody else could hit her,” he recalled. “My first instinct in any kind of accident like that is to help do whatever I can for somebody that’s injured. It’s not the worst wreck I’ve seen, but it’s not the smallest either.”
Shortly thereafter, emergency personnel arrived on scene and tended to the shaken motorist, thanks to Barton’s efforts. He shared with TCA that he has been a volunteer firefighter for decades and knew how to respond in a situation like this.
Kenichi Tanisaki, who lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, is being recognized for getting help for his driver-trainer when she suffered a medical emergency while driving from California to Canada. Tanisaki drives for Bison Transport based in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
On the evening of May 26, 2021, he was driving on Interstate 5 with his trainer, Julie. Tanisaki had only been driving for two months.
The two were in northern California, heading toward Langley, British Colombia, when Tanisaki noticed Julie was in distress and not acting normally.
“She looked like she was sick,” he said. “I asked her if she was OK, but she said she was fine.”
He continued to be concerned, however, because she looked like she was getting worse.
“I asked her a couple of times if she wants me to call 911, but she kept saying no,” he shared.
Tanisaki pondered what to do; he was in the U.S. still and wasn’t sure how insurance, payment, and family might play a role if Julie was hospitalized outside Canada — plus, she insisted that he not call 911.
When they approached to the Canadian border, he recalled, Julie woke up and seemed confused; she didn’t know where she was and was talking to herself.
“I realized that something was wrong and I really had to take action,” recalled Tanisaki. “I decided to go back to my company yard and ask for help.”
At Tanisaki’s request, Bison Transport staff called an ambulance, and Julie received urgent medical attention for a kidney infection. The paramedics told Julie that had she not gotten help, she most likely would have died within the hour. She was in a coma for seven weeks and had to have a kidney removed, which left other organs damaged.
Recently she returned to work and says she is very grateful to Tanisaki for saving her life.
“I am so happy that it was not too late to call the ambulance,” he shared. “Now she is recovered from her kidney infection. I did not do anything special; I just did the right thing.”
Royford Burris of Lauderhill, Florida, is being recognized for rescuing several victims during an early-morning crash involving an alleged drunk driver. Burris, a driver for Stevens Transport based in Dallas, is no stranger to the Highway Angel program, as he was named TCA’s 2020 Highway Angel of the Year during the association’s annual convention in September 2021.
On Saturday, April 16, 2022, around 3 a.m., he was driving through Cockeysville, Maryland, on Interstate 83. Burris shared that he noticed a white Acura RLX quickly approaching behind him. Moments later, to his surprise, the vehicle almost sideswiped the left side of his truck and then sped past.
About 2 miles down the road, Burris watched as that same Acura, still driving erratically, rear-ended a Kia Sportage.
“I saw it right in front of me, less than a quarter-mile away,” recalled Burris. “I was like, ‘Oh my god.’”
News reports said investigators claimed the initial crash led to multiple secondary crashes. A GMC Envoy crashed into the Kia and a Nissan Altima. The driver of the Kia had exited the vehicle and was standing near the passenger-side door when the vehicle was struck by a Ford Mustang. The driver of a Chrysler Voyager was trying to avoid the crash and struck a guardrail as well as the Kia, police said.
After watching the pileup of vehicles unfold before his eyes, Burris knew he had to stop and help. He slowly maneuvered his truck and trailer to the shoulder, a safe distance past the accident scene. Once safely stopped, he worked to help victims out of their crashed vehicles, for fear that a fire could erupt at any moment.
Burris stayed on the scene until emergency services arrived and provided information to police regarding the driver of the Acura, who was allegedly under the influence.
Shawna Lewis, who lives in Gun Barrel City, Texas, is recognized for stopping to care for a fellow truck driver who was experiencing a medical emergency while driving. Lewis drives for Artur Express in Hazelwood, Missouri.
On May 8, 2022, at 3:30 p.m., Lewis was driving on Interstate 20 in Ruston, Louisiana, when she heard via the CB radio that another truck driver had stopped suddenly in the middle of the highway ahead. Other truck drivers were suggesting there was a medical emergency.
Lewis is no stranger to stopping to help those in need; during her three-year trucking career, she has used her medical training to help two motorists in distress, to date.
She safely pulled over, hopped out of her cab, and went to assist the fellow truck driver.
“It didn’t appear to me to be a seizure,” she shared. “He had a strong pulse; CPR didn’t appear to be necessary.”
Shawna recalled that the driver wasn’t able to speak and was sweating profusely. She called 911, kept the man still, talked to him, and tried to find out his name. She wanted to comfort him in what had to be a frightening experience.
“The only thing I knew to do was check his vitals and look for medication,” she said.
Emergency personnel arrived within 10 minutes and Lewis left the scene, never knowing the real issue or the status of the driver.
She shared with TCA that her father was a trucker and her son is a trucker, and she said it was a childhood dream for her to also become a trucker. Stopping to help someone in need comes naturally to her, she added.
“Sometimes we even put ourselves in a dangerous situation,” said Lewis. “It’s just what you do.”
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.