Company driver James McCoy was eager to save a woman and infant from a crashed car before it ignited but reluctant to be called a hero.
On the morning of May 14, McCoy was on Interstate 55 in Missouri with a load when he came upon a woman driving her Toyota Camry too slowly for the passing lane. The next thing he saw shocked him: a tractor-trailer came up behind the Camry, hit the vehicle and continued driving.
“I couldn’t believe what I saw,” says McCoy, who has been a trucker 10 years. “I stopped and secured my truck and ran back to the car.”
The car had gone off the side of the road, rolled down the embankment and landed on the passenger side. The 43-year-old Philadelphia resident had to kick in the rear passenger door to reach the baby girl strapped in her car seat.
The mother was cut up from the accident but not seriously hurt. McCoy explained to her that he planned to take the baby to his truck and that he would return for her. “It was such a freak accident. I think I was more in shock than she was,” McCoy says.
By the time he returned, an owner-operator had stopped to help.
The two men first tried to get the driver out through the windshield. They finally got her out by pulling her up through the passenger side. “It was a job, trust me,” McCoy says.
About 10 minutes after the two had gotten her out of the car, the vehicle ignited. “By the time the cops came, I had to go,” he explains. “I didn’t want my load to be late.”
He didn’t get the name of the other trucker who helped. McCoy did get the trailer number of the trucker who caused the accident and says law enforcement officials were able to apprehend that driver. As a married father of three, McCoy had nothing but wrath and outrage for that trucker.
Schneider National, the company he has driven with for the past eight months, awarded him a certificate recognizing his heroism.
McCoy did not learn the name of the mother and daughter, but said her husband had called twice to thank him. The husband had asked if there was anything he could do in return and offered him money, which McCoy refused.
“I was just pleased to be able to help,” he said. “If that were my wife and daughter, I would expect someone to do the same.”