Bravery comes from a driving concern
Apr 1, 2004 12:00 PM
FOUR PROFESSIONAL truck drivers, who set aside their focus on daily trucking to aid others in emergency situations were nominated as finalists for the North America Highway Hero award presented annually by Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company.
Derrick Harris of Hopewell VA was announced as the Highway Hero on March 25, 2004, at the Mid-America Trucking Show. Each of the four finalists involved themselves in acts of extraordinary selflessness.
Derrick Harris, Hopewell VA — Harris, a driver for Schneider National Carriers, had just left the Richmond area Nov 12, 2003, with a load headed to Knoxville TN, when he noticed a fire near the side of the road. Realizing it was a person on fire, he drove to the person, stopped and secured the truck, then grabbed a blanket and cooler of water.
He extinguished the fire by wrapping the person in the blanket, then soaked it with water to comfort the victim. Once the individual was down and comfortable, Harris ran back to his truck, grabbed his fire extinguisher, and put out a fire that had started in some surrounding trees.
While extinguishing the fire, he noticed a container of something that smelled like kerosene. Harris stayed with the victim, trying to keep him conscious and comfortable while he called for help on his cell phone and awaited emergency response.
Based on comments from the burn victim and other observations in the area, Harris suggested to the responding local police that it appeared someone had deliberately set the man on fire. Police began searching the woods, and found a suspect within three hours. The suspect admitted the next day to setting the other man on fire.
Though the victim suffered burns over 60% of his body, Harris' actions helped save his life.
David Dunham, Fitchburg MA — Traveling Dec 19, 2002, from California to New York, Dunham was on Interstate 40 in New Mexico when he heard a report on his citizens band radio about another eastbound truck that had gone off the roadway. He soon saw the trailer of the crashed rig sticking up from the median strip. He stopped his truck, grabbed a flashlight, and headed to the wreckage.
Running to the truck in the darkness, Dunham stumbled and fell in the field of lava rock in the median strip, cutting his hands and knees, spraining a thumb, and dropping the flashlight.
Hearing someone in the cab, and noticing that flames were coming from the driver's side of the truck, Dunham reacted quickly. He grabbed the driver, Azem Rizvanovic of Arizona, by the arms and pulled him from the burning truck. Dunham dragged the dazed and injured driver from the wreckage, which now was engulfed in flames.
Rizvanovic, who had come to America with his family to escape the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, was taken to Dunham's truck until police and medical personnel arrived on the scene. He was transported to a local hospital for treatment and later fully recovered.
Dunham was employed at the time by Ronnie Dowdy Inc, based in Batesville AR. He now drives for US Express.
Joe Sines, Horse Shoe Run WV — Hauling a load of glass from North Carolina to Minnesota, Sines was traveling July 17, 2003, on I-77 in West Virginia when he witnessed an accident in front of him. A van veered out of its lane, became airborne, and crossed the median strip. As Sines braked, he saw the van roll five times.
Securing his truck, Sines leaped from his cab and ran to help, first instructing his 14-year-old son, who was riding with him, to stay in the truck. He discovered the van lying on the driver's side with all the windows broken out.
Two children were in the back: one in a car seat and the other strapped in a safety belt. Sines called 911 on his cell phone, then used his pocketknife to cut the safety straps and free the girls. Both clinged to him, but he was able to hand the youngest, a one-year-old, to an onlooker. The seven-year-old had a gash on her forehead, and Sines found a diaper and stanched the bleeding.
By this time, emergency personnel had arrived and attempted to save the mother. Seriously injured, she died a short time later.
Sines is a driver for Schneider National Carriers, based in Green Bay WI.
Anne Spriggs, Willow Springs MO — She and her driving partner with CRST Van Ex, Ronnie Grider, had just finished refueling Aug 22, 2003, at a truckstop near Paduca KY. Spriggs, in the driver's seat, was about to pull away from the truckstop when a car stopped in front of her truck.
A woman jumped out and waved for help. Spriggs set the brakes, jumped out of the truck, and followed the woman. In the back seat of the car was a five-year-old girl, unconscious with her tongue rolled back and blocking her airway. The girl's mother said the child had not been breathing for about a minute.
A former nurse, Spriggs recognized the symptoms of a grand mal seizure. She moved the girl's tongue forward and began administering CPR. After 30-40 seconds, the girl caught her breath. Spriggs continued CPR, and in a few minutes the girl was breathing on her own. By this time, an ambulance had arrived and took the girl to a nearby hospital.
Finalists were culled from nominees throughout the United States and Canada. A panel of judges, consisting of members of the trucking and tire trade media, will select the 2003 Goodyear North America Highway Hero.
To nominate a professional truck driver for the 2004 Goodyear Highway Hero Award, access the web site at www.highwayhero.net.
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