A truck driver who saved a law enforcement official from being strangled by a prisoner has been named the 32nd Goodyear Highway Hero. Chosen from three finalists, Clinton Blackburn of Morehead KY accepted the 32nd Goodyear North America Highway Hero Award during the Mid-America Trucking Show, which is taking place March 26-28 in Louisville KY.
Blackburn was driving near Elizabethtown KY in 2014 when he saw a sheriff’s cruiser lurch toward the highway median and abruptly stop. He pulled up to investigate and noticed the car’s driver side door was open. Inside, the driver, Spencer County jailer Darrell Herndon, was being strangled from behind by a prisoner leaning over the back seat.
Running to the car, Blackburn reached into the vehicle through its driver side door and began struggling with the prisoner in an effort to free Herndon, who was immobilized by his seat belt. During the melee, the prisoner pulled Herndon’s gun from its holster. Blackburn immediately grabbed the barrel of the gun and pointed it toward the car’s dashboard. Meanwhile, Herndon released his seat belt and rolled out of the car. The prisoner then tried to point the gun at Blackburn, who turned the weapon around and aimed it at the prisoner.
Pointing the gun at the prisoner, Blackburn backed away from the car. Realizing that the cruiser’s keys were still in the ignition, the prisoner tried to start the car and drive away. Working together, Blackburn and Herndon subdued him.
“Clinton’s brave, decisive actions ensured that Darrell would be home with his family that night,” said Gary Medalis, marketing director, Goodyear Commercial Tire Systems. “Clinton acted without regard for his own safety, literally putting himself in harm’s way to save another person,” Medalis continued. “His decision to get involved is a powerful example of the selflessness and courage exhibited by professional truck drivers. He has earned the right to be called a Goodyear Highway Hero.”
As the 32nd Goodyear Highway Hero Award winner, Blackburn receives a special Highway Hero ring, a $5,000 prize, and other items.
The other finalists include:
•David Fredericksen, a driver from Windermere FL. Fredericksen was driving down an Interstate near Gulfport MS when he saw a car crash into another truck and catch fire. He grabbed his fire extinguisher and ran to the car. Fredericksen repelled the fire enough to reach the car’s passenger side door. By this time, several bystanders had joined him. They helped him remove the passengers, including a woman and a one-year-old child, from the blazing car. By the time firefighters reached the scene, the vehicle’s passenger area was completely engulfed in flames. The incident was captured by Fredericksen’s dashboard camera.
•Mack Guffey, a driver from Gainesboro TN. Guffey was driving near New York City when an SUV passed his truck and slammed into the guardrail. The SUV flipped over and landed on its side, and the front of the vehicle burst into flames. Guffey stopped his truck, grabbed his fire extinguisher, and ran over to the SUV. While fighting the fire, he tried to reach into the vehicle through its broken windshield to grab its severely injured, semi-conscious driver. Using his extinguisher, he then smashed the SUV’s side window, grabbed the driver, and carried him to safety. Fearing that other people were trapped inside the SUV, Guffey ran back to the now flame-engulfed vehicle and discovered nobody else was inside. Guffey’s clothes caught fire during the rescue and he suffered several cuts and burns, but he stayed with the vehicle’s driver until help arrived.
For more information about the Goodyear Highway Hero Award and to read about past award winners, click here.