Mike Schiotis, who saved a woman from a gun-wielding attacker, was named winner of the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.’s 29th North America Highway Hero Award.
The other finalists were an Ontario driver who pulled a motorist from a car minutes before it exploded; a Minnesota driver who came to the aid of an elderly couple who had been trapped in a car during a raging snowstorm; and an Ohio driver who rescued a trapped motorist whose car had plunged into a pond.
On Nov. 1, Schiotis of Spring Hill, Tenn., a driver for Panther Expedited Services Inc., was driving in Pennsylvania when he saw a woman walking with a man close behind her. Thinking they were injured, he slowed down and observed the man was pointing a gun at the woman. Schiotis stopped his truck and the woman began pounding on his door, screaming, “Help me! He’s going to kill me!”
Schiotis jumped out of his truck and stood between the woman, who was bleeding from the head, and her assailant. He helped the woman into his rig and took her to the next truckstop.
The gun-carrying man followed Schiotis’ truck, which continued along the interstate instead of stopping. Schiotis notified the Pennsylvania State Highway Patrol, then used his CB radio to tell other truckers about what was transpiring. Another driver, who was behind Schiotis’ 18-wheeler, heard him and helped out. Together, they drove side-by-side, weaving back and forth to prevent the gunman from closing in on Schiotis’ tractor. This gave troopers time to catch up with the man and arrest him.
The other three finalists for the award were:
John Crozman of Albertville, Minn., who drives for Long Haul Trucking. While driving near Summit, S.D., in a snowstorm, Crozman noticed a candle flickering inside a car parked along the highway. Crozman walked to the car and found an elderly couple inside. He led them to his truck and let them spend the night in his warm sleeper cab.
Melville Farnell of Shelburne, Ontario, a driver for Tupling Farms Produce Inc. Farnell was making a delivery on May 13, when a car traveling in the opposite direction slammed into his truck head-on. The impact caused Farnell’s tractor-trailer to jackknife and leak fuel onto the highway. Farnell broke the driver’s side window and pulled the motorist to safety minutes before the car exploded.
John Neumeier of Russia, Ohio, who drives for Bohman Trucking. He was loading his milk delivery truck Nov. 14, when a car missed a curve on a nearby road and plunged into a pond. As the car began to sink, Neumeier grabbed a large wrench, dove into the pond and broke the driver’s side window. He pulled the semi-conscious driver to shore.