Driver braves 14-degree temps to help family in bad crash

Updated Jun 11, 2014
Robert SuttonRobert Sutton

Robert Sutton, a driver out of Meridian, Idaho, has been named a Highway Angel by the Truckload Carriers Association after he came to the aid of a family of four that had been involved in a crash on an icy road. 

The ABF Freight System driver was heading eastbound at 4 a.m. on Dec. 13, 2013, on I-84 outside of Pendleton, Ore., when a family of four in a pickup truck hauling a rented trailer passed him. The temperature was 14 degrees, and the roads were icy. 

The father of the family who was driving he pickup lost control of the vehicle after passing Sutton, and the pickup rolled several times before landing on its roof. 

The family’s belongings were strewn all over the highway and the highway’s shoulder. Sutton maneuvered his truck around them and came to a stop about 800 feet past the wreck. He put on his jacket and grabbed his flashlight. He ran along the dirt shoulder to get the family. 

He saw smoke and feared the pickup might catch fire. As he got closer, he tripped on something in the snow: A little girl who had been thrown from the vehicle in the crash. 

He took his jacket off and wrapped her in it, keeping her close to she wouldn’t get into the highway. 

He then began digging snow from around the pickup to allow the father, mother and sister out of the passenger window. He took the shivering family to his warm truck and called 911.

The smoke from the truck had died down, and Sutton gave the dad his jacket so he could brave the cold to gather up some of the family’s belongings. 

“I’m a firm believer that it’s our duty as professional truck drivers to help and assist the motoring public if they have an emergency,” Sutton said. “I truly believe that in my heart.”

Sutton, who has been driving for more than 34 years, was the Idaho Trucking Association’s Driver of the Year for 2013. He has also won several truck driving championships on the state and national levels and is a member of ABF’s Road Team, a group of 12 professional drivers who represent the company at events where safety skills and road knowledge can be shared with the general public.

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As TCA’s latest Highway Angel, Sutton has been presented with a certificate, patch, and lapel pin. 

Click here to see more stories on recent Highway Angels. 

And click here to see Overdrive‘s Knights of the Road series.