Trucker’s rescue of family earns Highway Hero honor

| March 21, 2013

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​A truck driver who rescued a family of six from a smashed minivan has been named the 30th Goodyear Highway Hero.

Chosen from four finalists, Jason Harte of Rogers, Ark., today accepted the 30th Goodyear North America Highway Hero Award during the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky. He wins $5,000 and other prizes.

The award marks the 30th anniversary of Goodyear’s program, which honors professional truck drivers who put themselves in harm’s way to help others.

View an artist’s video reenactment of the incident as Harte describes the event in his own words.

Harte, who works for Missoula, Mont.-based Sammons Trucking, was driving on an interstate last July when he saw a speeding pickup truck push a minivan off the road and slam into another car, pushing it to the highway median.

Bystanders helped the car’s driver while Harte approached the van. He saw a man and woman holding a 6-month-old baby and frantically trying to get out of the vehicle. Harte also noticed that three other children were trapped in the van. He dialed 911, helped the man, woman and baby out of the van, and then rescued the most accessible of the three other children.

Harte, a former paramedic, worked with other bystanders to open the van’s back hatch and performed first aid on the child, then pulled her out through the door. He pulled apart seats and cut seatbelts to rescue the remaining child.

Harte helped rescue crews tend to the victims’ injuries – which ranged from broken legs to internal bleeding – until ambulances arrives.

“Jason’s decision to offer assistance is a powerful example of the selflessness exhibited by professional truck drivers,” said Gary Medalis, marketing director for Goodyear Commercial Tire Systems. “Because of his actions, lives, in all probability, were saved. For this, Jason has earned the right to be called a hero.”

As the 30th Goodyear Highway Hero Award winner, Harte receives a special Highway Hero ring, a $5,000 cash prize and other items.

Other Highway Hero finalists include:

Christopher Burgess, an independent truck driver from Ravenna, Ohio. After picking up 15 tons of sand, Burgess was driving a truck down a steep hill in Akron, Ohio, when its brakes failed. Fighting to keep the truck under control, Burgess waved his arms and honked the vehicle’s horn while it sped down the hill toward a busy intersection at an estimated 50 miles per hour. He maneuvered the truck between two buildings full of people and steered toward bushes and trees at the rear of the property, behind which was a river bank. The truck hit a tree and dropped into the river below. Burgess died in the accident.

Chad Dickey of Wadena, Minn., who drives for Tony’s Transfer. Dickey was driving near Chattanooga, Tenn., when he came across vehicle debris, including a fuel tank, scattered across the highway.

Dickey stopped his truck, grabbed his flashlight, and went to investigate. He spotted some tracks on the pavement and followed them to a nearby ditch, where he found the remains of an 18-wheeler, including the exposed driver’s seat to which Lewis Boyd, another truck driver, was still strapped.

Boyd had suffered a massive gash in his leg and was passing in and out of consciousness due to rapid blood loss. Dickey applied a tourniquet to Boyd’s leg for 30 minutes while keeping him alert until rescue personnel arrived. They airlifted Boyd to a local hospital, where he spent more than a month recovering from his injuries.

David Williams of Angier, N.C., who drives for Schneider National. While driving on an interstate in Wilmington, N.C., he spotted a disabled car ahead of him. It was raining heavily, and the car had spun around, facing oncoming traffic. Williams stopped his truck and raced to the car. He placed safety cones around the car and began directing traffic away from it.

Suddenly, Williams noticed a pickup truck approaching at high speed. He jumped out of the way to avoid being crushed by the pickup, which slammed into the back of his rig and burst into flames. The pickup’s driver escaped while Williams pulled the truck’s passenger out of the burning vehicle. He then helped extinguish the flames that had engulfed the pickup.

​“Each of these finalists is a hero in his own right,” said Medalis. “Each took action without regard to his personal safety and saved other people’s lives. We are honored to recognize these selfless professionals for their acts of courage and compassion.”

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