Road Music From a Vegas Girl
“I could tell it wasn’t a good sound,” says Gibson, who drives over-the-road for heavy and specialized carrier Miller Transfer and Rigging. “Then I saw fire coming out of this guy’s reefer that was parked right ahead of me.”
Six trucks were parked at the truckstop in Baytown, Texas, and Gibson knew they could all be in danger. The Augusta, Wis., trucker sprang into action.
“I took off running towards the trucks, and I called the truckstop on my cell as I was running and told them to call the fire department,” he says. “Then I started banging on the door to the truck that was on fire. I was beating on both doors, because the fire had gotten into the back of several of the trucks.
“I kept beating until one guy came out of his passenger door, but by that time it was getting so hot that a couple of tires blew out right by my feet.”
Gibson says most of the truckers were afraid because of all the commotion the fire caused.
“Some of the drivers thought people were being shot because of the popping noises,” he says. “Some truckers drove away and left quickly to avoid getting burned, but I kept beating.”
The whole time, Gibson was yelling for the truckers to get out of their cabs as soon as possible, but it proved difficult to wake some of them.
“Some truckers thought it was people just bothering them, but I was hollering, ‘fire!’ the whole time. Of course, at 4 in the morning, you’re just operating on instinct, so my main concern was for the drivers’ safety.”
Gibson says only two trucks out of the six that were parked ended up catching fire.
“After we got everyone out of the trucks, only two were left burning. I tried to break the window of one with my hand,” Gibson says.
In the end, only one truck was completely destroyed in the fire.
“The guy who lost his truck lost everything,” Gibson says. “He came out with a pair of pants alone, but he’d lost his cell phone, his billfold, everything.”
Gibson’s charity didn’t end with alerting the truckers to the fire.
“I helped take up a collection for the trucker who lost his possessions and bought him a pair of shoes,” Gibson says.
Ralph Santine, Gibson’s boss at Miller, says Gibson has always been the kind of person willing to help everyone.
“Jerry is our No. 1 guy for customer service. He is a great asset for our organization,” Santine says. “When I heard about his heroism, it wasn’t really a surprise because that’s the kind of person Jerry is. He’s a good person, and he always has been. I don’t think that will ever change. You can say a lot of things about people, but when you say they are a good person, that’s the ultimate.”