Professional truck drivers Kiel Carson, Stuart Cole, Donnell Harris Jr., Alec “Zay” Harrison, Robert Kravette, Timothy Sikes, and Devey South, 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 as 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 go to the program’s Presenting Sponsor EpicVue, and Supporting Sponsor DriverFacts.
Kiel Carson, who lives in Portland, Maine, and is a driver with Prime Inc. of Springfield, Missouri, was honored for stopping to help at the scene of an accident after another truck slammed into a disabled vehicle.
During his training period with Prime Inc., Carson was crossing the Delaware Memorial Bridge at Wilmington, Delaware. It was around 3 p.m. and traffic was fairly light when he saw a tractor-trailer to his left slam into a disabled car that was stopped in the road. The truck had swerved to avoid another vehicle that had made an aggressive lane change in front of it.
“The truck carried the car across my lane and into the guardrail and came to a stop maybe 100 feet in front of me,” recalled Carson, who yelled to his trainer, Kevin Hare (who was on his required rest break in the sleeper) that he had just witnessed a serious accident.
“I pulled the parking brakes, checked my mirror, and jumped out,” he said. As Carson went to check on the two vehicles, Hare called 911 and the team’s dispatcher.
Carson first checked on the truck driver, who was dazed but didn’t appear to be injured. He then rushed to the vehicle that had been hit. The trunk of the sedan was crushed 6 to 12 inches behind the B pillar (the part of the car’s frame between the front and rear doors).
Carson, who was also an EMT student, approached the driver’s side of the car. The door was pinned shut and he couldn’t break the glass. He could see the driver had been killed. Another motorist was trying to open the front passenger door. Carson ran over to help as his trainer joined him.
“I asked (Hare) to go back to the truck,” said Carson. “He wanted to give me any help he could, but there really wasn’t anything he could do, and I didn’t want him to see this.”
Carson also asked gathering bystanders to go back to their vehicles to clear the scene for first responders. Thankfully, the front-seat passenger was breathing, although unresponsive.
“Then I saw a second passenger in the back seat,” recalled Carson. “He was wedged between the back seat and the back of the front seat. I couldn’t reach him, and had no idea what his condition was.”
When a bridge authority officer arrived on scene, Carson briefed her on the situation as one of the bystanders continued trying to open the passenger-side door.
“He yelled that he had gotten the door open, and the front-seat passenger had regained consciousness,” Carson said, adding that he rushed over. “She was screaming. I asked her where she hurt and what she could feel, but she was unable to answer because of the pain.”
He asked the officer for any medical equipment she had.
“She handed me her medical bag and I was able to find a C (cervical neck) collar,” he shared with TCA. He then rushed back to help the front-seat passenger as first responders began arriving on the scene. As they took over, Carson returned to his truck.
“We had to wait a few hours for police to perform their investigation and extrication,” he said, adding that he doesn’t know why the car was stopped in the middle of the road. He later learned the front-seat passenger was the only one who survived.
Stuart Cole, a resident of Jackson, Mississippi, who drives for Taylor Truck Line of Northfield, Minnesota, was honored for looking after a fellow motorist and her young daughter as they waited for hours for a serious multi-vehicle accident to clear ahead of them.
Patience was the order of the day early one morning on Interstate 80 (the Ohio Turnpike). It was around 5 a.m., and as Cole neared the Indiana state line, traffic slowed to a stop.
“I thought it was because of the road construction,” he said. “There was only one open lane.”
Little did he know that a nine-vehicle accident had occurred a mile ahead involving six trucks and three passenger vehicles. Cole was in for a long — almost seven hours — wait.
“There was nowhere to go,” he recalled, because concrete barriers lined both sides of the lane.
A woman who was stopped near Cole was traveling alone with her 10-year-old daughter on their way home to Nebraska.
“I noticed he was such a safe driver on the interstate, truly adhering to posted speeds and maintaining great distance,” the woman wrote in a letter to Cole’s employer. “I wanted to compliment him personally, but didn’t want traffic to restart when I was out of my vehicle. Well, after 80 minutes at a standstill, I figured it was safe.”
She said Cole offered her and her daughter food and water.
“Later, he even gave us a large towel for some privacy when my daughter had to use a bathroom,” she said. “He was so nice, and generally reassuring in such a strange predicament. He truly helped myself and my daughter feel safe on the road. I will continue to speak highly of both him as a driver and your company. Thank you!”
Cole shared with TCA that the woman was stopped several vehicles ahead of him.
“She got out first and walked back to my truck,” he recalled. “We started chatting. Other people were getting out to walk around or walk their dogs. Some walked up to the scene of the accident and came back to report what they saw.”
He even offered her bread and sandwich meat that he had in his cab’s refrigerator.
“I just tried to make the most of it,” he said with a laugh.
There’s so much negativity out here about truck drivers,” said Cole. “If I see other motorists who are in need of help, I stop and check to see what I can do.”
Cole has been driving since 2003; before that he worked for the State of Mississippi after leaving the Navy in 1996.
“I love what I do,” he said. “I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t love it.”
Donnell Harris Jr. of Killeen, Texas, who drives for Artur Express of Hazelwood, Missouri, is being honored for stopping to help extinguish a car fire off Interstate 30.
August 10 was a pretty normal day for Harris as he drove along I-30 just outside Sulphur Springs, Texas. That is until he saw billowing smoke up ahead in the grassy median.
“I thought it was a grass fire,” he shared with TCA. “But as I got closer, I saw it was a Ford Mustang on fire.”
The flames were coming from the front of the vehicle and were beginning to spread to the grass. Harris carefully moved to the left lane of the two-lane divided highway and pulled over as far as he could onto the shoulder. Thankfully, the car’s occupants, a mother and young girl, had escaped safely and waited a safe distance away.
Another motorist had stopped minutes earlier and was using a small extinguisher, but Harris could see it wasn’t enough to put out the blaze.
“I grabbed my extinguisher and ran to help,” he said.
Harris and the other motorist were able to keep the flames under control and prevent them from spreading. The fire department arrived on scene within five minutes and took over. Harris was soon back on his way, thankful that things turned out as well as they did.
Harris has been driving for six years and will soon celebrate his one-year anniversary with Artur Express.
ALEC “ZAY” HARRISON
Alec “Zay” Harrison of Portland, Oregon, who at the time of the incident drove for Pro Truck Lines of Portland, Oregon, is being honored after a last-minute decision put her in the right place and time to help resuscitate another driver who had collapsed at a truck stop.
Harrison was on her way from Portland to Seattle on a regular route along Interstate 5 when “nature called” and put her in the right place at the right time.
“I normally stop a little farther up, but I had to use the rest room,” she said with a laugh. She pulled into Gee Cee’s Truck Stop at exit 57. “When I got back in my truck, I decided not to use the front entrance and pulled around to the back by the mechanic’s shop.”
That’s when she saw two men in the parking lot near a fork lift.
“There was something on the ground,” she shared with TCA. “I thought they had dropped something, but as I got closer, I realized it was a person laying there and he wasn’t moving.”
Concerned, Harrison safely pulled over, hit the four ways, and grabbed her medical kit.
One of the men was calling 911 and the other was kneeling on the ground, shaking the unresponsive man, a truck driver, who had collapsed face down.
She checked for a pulse. Finding none, she instructed the two men to turn the man over while she held his head. She then started doing compressions.
“The paramedics arrived about eight minutes later,” she said. “They got set up, and then the captain knelt next to me and took over without missing a beat.”
The paramedics intubated the man and were able to get a pulse, but then lost it.
“They defibbed him a couple times and got the pulse back and a stable blood pressure,” shared Harrison. They then got the man ready for transport to the hospital.
“I got back in my truck and pulled out to continue on,” she said.
“But I was shaking so bad I had to pull over,” she shared. “I called my sister who is a nurse, and my buddy, Joe. Later that afternoon as I was heading back to Portland, Joe found the hospital where the man had been taken to. He was told the man was a patient, so that was good. It meant he was still alive.”
The next morning Harrison got a call from one of the driver’s co-workers who had picked up his load. He wasn’t doing well, but his family, including his wife and daughter, were at the hospital with him.
Later that afternoon Harrison learned the driver had passed away.
“At least his family could be there,” she said with a catch in her throat. “I found out his co-worker had delivered his load at 4 p.m. The man passed away at 4:15. (The co-worker) was choked up and said (the driver) must have waited until the load was delivered.”
Harrison learned the driver was in his late 50s.
“His sister called me a week later and thanked me for allowing them to be with him” she said. “It’s been a tough thing to deal with. I’m glad they had time with him.”
Harrison learned CPR at the age of 11 when she was a Girl Scout, and has kept her certification current. Harrison began driving in 2002.
“I was taught by old-school knights of the road,” she said. “They looked out for one another. I wish more drivers would get out and talk to each other again.”
If you would like to learn how to perform “Hands-Only” CPR, contact the American Red Cross or your local fire department for classes/training in your area.
Robert Kravette of Port St. Lucie, Florida, who drives for Carroll Fulmer Logistics Corp. of Groveland, Florida, is being honored for stopping to help two teenagers after they lost control of their vehicle and rolled into a highway median.
Kravette was headed west on Interstate 26 near Aiken, South Carolina, when he saw an SUV in the eastbound lanes swerve out of control and into the grassy median, where it rolled several times.
“Eastbound traffic had come to a halt pretty fast,” he said. “It appeared that when the SUV driver reacted and hit the brakes, he swerved and lost control.”
Kravette pulled to the shoulder and then jumped out and ran across the highway to help. The SUV was lying on its passenger side.
“It looked really bad,” he recalled. “I was afraid of what I would find.”
Several other motorists had also stopped and rushed over to the SUV. When Kravette reached the vehicle, he saw two male teenagers inside.
Kravette tried breaking the windshield out, but wasn’t successful.
“We were finally able to get the driver’s door open,” he said.
He and some of the other motorists who had stopped managed to safely pull the driver and his passenger out of the vehicle.
“Thank God they weren’t seriously injured,” Kravette shared with TCA.
Once he saw that everything was under control, Kravette left his contact information and hurried back to his truck.
“There was a lot of traffic building up and I was parked on the side of the road,” he remembered.
Kravette has been driving an 18-wheeler for six years. Before that, he drove a straight truck for 15 years.
“I love my job,” he shared. “I love seeing the landscape.”
His dog, Max, is his sidekick.
Timothy Sikes of Melvin, Texas, was named a Highway Angel for stopping to help an elderly man who lost control of his vehicle and rolled into a ditch.
Sikes was at a truck stop near Baytown, Texas, early one morning in April. He had just finished his pre-trip inspection and was taking his dog, Diesel, for a walk when he heard the sound of screeching tires.
“I looked around and saw a car going off the road,” he said. “It went into the ditch and rolled.”
Sikes called 911 and rushed over to check on the driver, a man in his 80s. He was trapped in his car.
“He told me he had fallen asleep at the wheel,” recalled Sikes.
Although Sikes wasn’t able to open the door of the damaged vehicle, he talked with the driver to keep him calm until first responders arrived just a few minutes later. The driver appeared to have minor injuries.
Sikes now drives for Bay & Bay in Eagan, Minnesota.
Devey South, who lives in Carrollton, Georgia, is being honored for stopping to rescue a father and son after another driver sideswiped their vehicle, causing it to roll several times.
On June 9, South was westbound on Interstate 78 near Saucon, Pennsylvania. It was mid-afternoon, and traffic was quite heavy. He was in the right-hand lane when a car and SUV approached on his left.
“The car started to fishtail, swerved, and then sideswiped the SUV,” he recalled. “It caused the SUV to spin and then flip four times across the highway.”
The SUV landed on the driver’s side and slammed against the concrete barrier. South applied his air brakes and pulled over. He then jumped out and ran across several lanes of traffic.
“The back window was busted out,” South shared with TCA. “I stuck my head in, but there was smoke or dust, and I couldn’t see anything.”
But then he saw a boy, about 12 years old, lift his head.
“He was cut, and had blood all over his arms,” South recalled, adding that he told the boy to hang on. He then climbed on top of the SUV.
“The driver’s door was smashed in,” he said. “It took me about 10 minutes to pry the door open.”
The driver, the boy’s father, was conscious and still buckled in his seat belt.
“He was crying and in pain, but didn’t speak English,” recalled South.
South was able to pull the boy out first. He then used his Swiss Army knife to cut the driver’s seat belt. At the time, South says he didn’t know if he was dealing with smoke or dust from the air bags, so he and another motorist who had stopped decided to pull the driver out and get him on the ground.
As they waited for first responders, the driver of the other vehicle got out.
“She was on her cellphone and looked like she was fine,” said South. “She kept saying she was sorry.”
South says he wasn’t able to find out what triggered the accident. He waited with the injured driver and his son until first responders arrived a short time later and took over.
South shared that, although he’s been driving for 20 years, this is the first time he’s been this close to being involved in an accident.
To nominate a driver or meet additional Highway Angels recipients, visit highwayangel.org.
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.