‘Trucking it forward’ with your fellow driver

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While trukkin down westbound 70 thru Kansas last night I noticed the truck ahead of me started to swerve badly. I keyed up the radio and asked him if he was ok. “NO! I THINK I’M HAVING A HEART ATTACK!!!” Bout gave me one too. He hit the shoulder and I followed suit. Got 911 on the phone while I got into his truck and helped him lay down on his bed. I saw a bottle of Bayer and gave him a couple, asking him questions trying to keep him talking.

Took medics and troopers roughly 15 minutes to arrive. By then he was doing better and the color had started to return to his face. I found his cellphone and called his wife and let her know what was going on. While medics loaded him up I talked with troopers about what had happened, then came time for them to deal with the guy’s truck. Should they impound it? One knew of a nearby ranch he could call to see if it could be parked there, but neither knew how to drive a semi. I offered to help, but only if one of them stayed back with my truck. So we got it moved, I got back to my truck and here I am totally exhausted but feeling more alive than I have in a long time. It’s one thing to witness the works of God first hand, quite another to be right smack in the middle of it.”

Stephen Persilver wasn’t looking for attention when he posted this to his Facebook page on January 10.

“I was trying to sort it all out in my head, and kind of jacked up on adrenaline. I didn’t post it to get recognition,” Persilver says. “When I woke up the next day and thousands of people had seen the post and shared it, I was shocked.”

It took a little convincing to get Persilver to talk about his experience. “I don’t want any recognition for doing what I should have done anyway,” he says. “The glory belongs to a higher power.”

Stephen is a third-generation trucker, hauling a dedicated reefer load from Seattle to OKC weekly. His wife and son hold down the home fort while he’s away. He’s working to instill the values his father and grandfather taught him in his own son.

Persilver’s sonPersilver’s son

“My boy wants to be a truck driver, and I’m going to teach him how to do it right. These trucking schools teach you how to drive, but they don’t teach you to be a trucker, and there’s a big difference.”

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In 2012, Stephen’s wife was diagnosed with – and beat – thyroid cancer. As with any family suffering a medical crisis, things got tough financially. Stephen ended up leaving the carrier he was working for and going to another company because he couldn’t get the miles he needed. He was flat broke and had no money for extras – like a CB radio.

“I was just going to go on out without one, and I had mentioned in passing conversation at our church I thought it was unsafe for me to be without a CB. One of the families at church offered to buy one for me. It was the same CB I called that driver on.”

Stephen thinks it’s important to remember there are more than big trucks out there. “Everybody has a cog in the wheel – big rig, box, sprinter – we’re all hauling goods. We need to remember the brotherhood and sisterhood on the road and take care of each other.”

Persilver and sonPersilver and son

He’s decided to use this experience to start a movement in the industry towards doing just that.

“I myself stop periodically to help out a stranded motorist, change a flat usually,” he says, “because that’s not only what real truckers do, it’s what humans do for each other.”

“Truck it Forward” will be his personal statement. He goes on to say, “If just 25 percentof the truckers out there would stop once a week, it would make a big difference. Instead of an “ice bucket challenge,” we’ll challenge drivers to stop and help a motorist when they can, take pictures, post it to Facebook or something, make it cool and something people will want to do.”

While he works toward his goal to promote a better image of the industry to the general public, he prefers not to know the outcome of the situation he was involved in. “While I’d love to know, let’s say he didn’t make it. I’d much rather go on in life thinking he’s at home, bouncing one of his grand kids on his knee than to learn he never made it to see them again.”

We’ll do a follow-up on Stephen and his “Truck it Forward” initiative, as soon as he’s got it up and rolling. Until then, he’s thinking positive thoughts.

“We will make a difference here. Even if we don’t we can’t go at it with any other attitude.”

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