Team drivers Dave Woodman and Tony Rheault of N. Yanke Transfer, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, have been named Highway Angels by the Truckload Carriers Association for their help at the scene of a serious accident.
On Aug. 24, Woodman was driving along Highway 17 near Blind River, Ontario, while his fellow driver Rheault slept. Woodman saw a car cross the center line on a curve and collide with an oncoming tanker.
Woodman parked the truck and began directing traffic around the crash site to protect the accident victims from possible further injury. He smelled highly explosive aviation fuel leaking from the tanker. Worried a fire could break out, he and several other motorists used five-gallon buckets provided by another trucker to contain the flow.
Meanwhile, Rheault ran to the car’s passenger side and helped an adult female get out from behind an airbag. Other motorists had stopped to help, including a retired nurse, who had also witnessed the crash. She began treating the driver for extensive injuries, and asked Rheault to retrieve a first aid kit from her car. Rheault served as her assistant, handing her medical supplies as needed. He also pushed back the shattered windshield so the nurse could reach the man’s face.
In about 20 minutes, emergency personnel arrived. The 77-year old driver was rushed to the hospital but died later.
The nurse later sent a complimentary e-mail to N. Yanke Transfer praising Rheault and Woodman for their valuable assistance. “Please tell your men to be proud of their excellent emergency response to this stranger,” she wrote. “I think if your men had not been as responsive and diligent as they were, then the driver more than likely may not have even made it to the hospital. I believe we kept him alive long enough to have … his family around him to comfort him and say their last goodbyes.”
Both Rheault and Woodman speak modestly about their involvement at the accident scene. “When you have an accident like this and you start to attach families and relatives to it, it really starts to mean something. You realize that could have been my own parents,” said Woodman. Rheault, who dreamt about the incident for about a month afterward, said, “It’s just the way it is. I hope I can help someone again.”
Rheault and Woodman have received Highway Angel lapel pins, certificates, and clothing patches. N. Yanke Transfer also received a certificate.