Not Truckers but Rockers
“The kids were scared to death, and he was pretty shook up, so I got some blankets from my truck and called the wrecker,” Dent says. The Stricklands were all safe, and no one was seriously injured.
“I feel like they probably would’ve drowned in the car because there wasn’t a single other car coming,” Dent says. “I feel like God had a big hand in putting me there.”
When the company Dent drives for, Groendyke Transport, found out what he had done, his friend Ruben Moore and assistant terminal manager Joey Kirk suggested nominating him for the 2004 Goodyear North American Highway Hero award.
Dent refused, but Moore nominated him without his knowledge.
When the Dents found out he was a finalist, Dent’s wife of 27 years, Tamara, encouraged him to accept the honor.
“He told me, ‘I don’t feel right accepting all this attention when it’s something people do every day and something anyone would do,’” she says. “But I told him anything positive about truckers is good because very seldom do you hear good things about truckers.”
Dent agreed that good publicity for truckers is important. “Even the dad who I helped said he had a bad opinion of truckers, and this changed his whole outlook,” he says.
He says he hopes the Goodyear Highway Heroes can inspire other truckers to help each other out on the road. “I hope that the trucking community will work together a whole lot better,” he says. “In the past we really looked out for each other and helped one another.”
Dent, along with three other finalists, was honored at a banquet during the Mid-America Trucking Show.
“He was so nervous, and with his blood pressure, he was beet red,” Tamara says.
When he was announced as the winner, they were both surprised. “I couldn’t even see I was crying so hard,” Tamara says. “I felt proud and shocked but disappointed for the other guys. There’s a whole mixture of emotions there.”
Goodyear gave Dent a ring, plaque and $10,000 U.S. savings bond. And the day after his honor, he was already getting recognized by fellow truckers.
Dent says he believes all the finalists are heroes. “I don’t know how a hero is supposed to feel, but I feel special just being involved with these other guys.”
Founded by Goodyear in 1983, the Highway Hero program recognizes professional truck drivers and the often unnoticed, life-saving rescues and roadside assistance they provide as their jobs take them across North America. Nomination forms and program details are available at www.highwayhero.net or the Goodyear Highway Hero Hotline at (330) 796-8183.
José Ogas Jr., of Fayetteville, N.C., driver for TMC Transportation – While traveling on Interstate 70 in Pennsylvania, Ogas saved a man and his daughter from their burning car on Dec. 31, 2003. Ogas applied his Army training as a member of a combat lifesaving team when he administered first aid until paramedics arrived.