Washington driver named Highway Hero

An Olympia, Wash., truck driver who helped save the lives of two people in a car that had come to a stop on railroad tracks before it was struck by a train has been named the Goodyear 2010 North America Highway Hero. 

From among four finalists, Tilden Curl accepted the Highway Hero award and a $10,000 U.S. Savings Bond during a truck event in Louisville, Ky.

On Oct. 27, 2010, Curl was driving southbound on Highway 99 near Tulare, Calif., when a vehicle went out of control, leaving the highway and coming to a stop with its front wheels lodged over railroad tracks that run parallel to the highway. Curl checked on the car and saw a train was coming. A woman exited the passenger side of the car, and Curl yelled for her to get clear of the tracks. He saw the driver was unconscious and trapped inside. Curl was able to unfasten the man’s seatbelt and drag him away seconds before the train collided with the stranded vehicle.

Curl was selected along with three other truck drivers as finalists for the 2010 award. Other finalists included:
• Jaime Avitia, of El Paso, Texas, a driver for Stagecoach Cartage, who administered CPR on a driver in an accident who didn’t have a pulse. After applying chest compressions, the man finally coughed and began to breathe. Until paramedics arrived, Avitia applied a towel and gauze to the man’s bleeding head and kept him comfortable.

• Bill Howard, of Litchfield, Neb., a driver for Howard Transportation, whose rig was struck by a female driver who had fallen asleep. He found she had sustained life-threatening injuries. Howard called for emergency assistance and provided assurance to the severely injured driver as she awaited treatment. Two firefighters helped Howard to save the woman’s life.

• David Nelson, of Orlando, Fla., a driver for Werner Enterprises, who was flagged down by a woman who had just lost control of her vehicle and hit a road sign. He discovered the woman’s 7-year-old daughter was not breathing. A certified EMT for 25 years, Nelson performed CPR and saved the girl’s life until emergency personnel arrived.

To nominate a professional truck driver for the 2011 Goodyear Highway Hero Award, go to www.goodyear.com/truck/news/hero.html.