As finalists for the 28th annual Goodyear North America Highway Hero Award, a Florida truck driver used emergency medical training to help save a seven-year-old girl who had stopped breathing. A Texas truck driver administered life-saving CPR to a victim of a high-speed crash; a Washington truck driver pulled an unconscious driver from a car seconds before a train struck it. A Nebraska truck driver aided a driver who had sustained life-threatening injuries after falling asleep and striking his rig.
These professional truck drivers—David Nelson of Orlando FL, Jaime Avitia of El Paso TX, Tilden Curl of Olympia WA, and Bill Howard of Litchfield NE—were named finalists for this award for trucking heroism.
For the 2010 award, the finalists are:
—Nelson, a driver for Werner Enterprises, was driving Feb 2, 2010, on Interstate 20 near Birmingham AL, when he was flagged down by a woman who had lost control of her vehicle and hit a road sign. Upon stopping, he approached the car and discovered the woman’s seven-year-old daughter was not breathing. Then he learned the child had a previous heart condition and had experienced trauma during the accident. A certified emergency medical technician for 25 years, Nelson placed the girl on the ground and performed CPR until emergency personnel arrived. Because of his quick actions, the girl is alive and healthy.
—Avitia, a driver for Stagecoach Cartage, was driving Aug 31, 2010, on I-10 on his way to a company facility in Laredo TX. Beneath I-10 at one point is Highway 17 and a dead-end service road, where he noticed a pickup truck driving at high speed. He watched as the pickup suddenly left the roadway, hit a concrete drainage culvert nose-first, flipped into the air, and landed upright. Avitia stopped his truck, grabbed a flashlight and first-aid kit, and ran down the embankment toward the accident. He opened the truck’s front door but couldn’t find anyone inside. He then realized the driver—not wearing a seatbelt—had been thrown into the back seat of the crew cab. Unable to find a pulse, Avitia knelt on the front seat, squeezed between the armrests, and administered CPR to the man. After four chest compressions, the man coughed and began to breathe. As another man approached the wrecked pickup, Avitia told him to call 911. Until paramedics arrived, Avitia applied a towel and gauze to the man’s bleeding head and kept him comfortable.
—Curl, a driver for Tecco Trucking, was driving southbound Oct 27, 2010, on Highway 99 near Tulare CA when a vehicle appeared to lose control and cross traffic, leaving the highway and coming to a stop with its front wheels lodged over railroad tracks running parallel to the highway. Curl stopped his truck to check on the car, then noticed a train was coming. An elderly woman exited the passenger side of the car, and Curl yelled for her to get clear of the tracks. He then noticed the driver was unconscious and trapped inside. At first, the door couldn’t be opened, but Curl was able to squeeze his arm inside and unlock it. He managed to unfasten the man’s seatbelt and drag him out of the car and away from the area just seconds before the train collided with the stranded vehicle.
—Howard, a driver for Howard Transportation, was driving May 22, 2010, on Highway 2 near Ravenna NE, when a car crossed the center line and struck his rig that was hauling a grain trailer. The female driver had fallen asleep, and her car drifted into the truck’s drive wheels, then underneath the trailer before coming to rest alongside the road. Howard stopped his truck to check on the driver and found she had sustained life-threatening injuries, including a nearly severed arm, two broken legs, and injuries to her face and head. Howard assisted the severely injured driver, securing her injured arm with a shirt and keeping her from bleeding to death. Two firefighters en route to a training class came upon the accident and helped Howard save the woman’s life.
These finalists will be featured March 31 at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville KY. One driver will be named the 2010 Goodyear North America Highway Hero at the Truck Writers of North America Annual Banquet and receive a $10,000 US Savings Bond, a plaque, and a specially designed ring; the other finalists will receive a $5,000 US Savings Bond and plaque.
Go to www.goodyear.com/truck/news/hero.html for more on the program.