Highway Heroes

Robert Lake
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Gene Hackman once said the difference between a hero and coward is one step sideways. If you know some heroes behind the wheel, now is your chance to nominate them for the Goodyear North America Highway Hero. Heroic acts of bravery by truckers occur on our highways regularly as professional drivers do their jobs. Unfortunately, they don’t get the media coverage that a truck accident gets. Awards like this help raise the public’s confidence in trucking and put a positive spotlight on an industry they usually kick around.

Last year, Charles Ingram, a professional truck driver from Jackson, Ga., was driving his 18-wheeler in the metro Atlanta area when he came upon an accident with a car on fire. There were two passengers trapped in the burning vehicle, and no bystanders were attempting to fight the flames and rescue the pair. To make matters worse, the unconscious driver had his foot resting on the car’s accelerator pedal, causing the engine to race and make the situation more threatening.

“I guess nobody wanted to go near it because of the fire,” Ingram said. “But I thought, ‘No way am I going to let this guy go out like this,’ so I just reacted.”

Ingram grabbed a hammer and rushed forward. He broke out the passenger-side rear window and pulled the passenger out of the vehicle. He then broke the driver’s window, and pulled the unconscious driver free from the wreckage.

Ingram began administering first aid as he had learned in the military. He turned the duties over to the Gwinnett County Fire Rescue when emergency technicians arrived on the scene.
“This isn’t something that you think about,” Ingram said of the rescue. “It’s a situation that you react to. You just see a bad scene like that, and you do what you think needs to be done. I was just in the right place at the right time. That’s all.”

For that act of bravery, Ingram, a driver for FedEx Ground, was named Goodyear’s North America Highway Hero for 2002.

“We know there are many brave professional truck drivers out there who deserve to be recognized for their selfless and heroic deeds for coming to the aid of others,” said Steve McClellan, Goodyear’s vice president of commercial systems. “However, they can’t be recognized if they’re not nominated.”

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If you know someone worthy of this award, see our story and find out how you can nominate him or her. But hurry, the deadline is the end of this month.