The Truckload Carriers Association recently named Brian Puff, a driver for Crete Carrier Corporation, as a TCA Highway Angel for stopping at the scene of a fatal accident.
Late in the morning on Oct. 14, 2014, Puff was headed westbound on I-80 near North Platte, Neb., when an SUV passed him and suddenly crossed into the median. The SUV hit a tractor trailer heading eastbound head-on, causing the truck to burst into flames.
The driver of the truck was dazed and unable to communicate what type of load he was carrying, so Puff got the driver into his truck and drove him up the road to a safe location in case there had been hazardous materials in the trailer.
Puff then parked and returned to the SUV to check on the condition of the driver who caused the accident. Unfortunately, the driver had been fatally injured. Puff stayed with him, comforting him until he passed away.
Two bystanders told Puff they thought they had seen children’s clothes in the car, so he checked the back seat and fortunately found no one.
Finally, while waiting for the first responders to arrive, Puff noticed several bystanders taking pictures and videos of the gruesome scene, never offering to help. He yelled at them to get away from the tractor-trailer because the type of load was unknown and could be dangerous.
The truck driver involved in the crash produced a document showing that his load was not hazardous, so when the police arrived, Puff was able to tell relay the information and give a statement about what he had witnessed.
“I can’t begin to tell you how glad I am that there were no children involved,” Puff said, who performed crash, fire and rescue services for the U.S. Marines for more than eight years before becoming a professional truck driver. “The sad thing was that if the driver of the SUV had been wearing his seatbelt, he would have lived. I just hope he didn’t suffer.”
For stopping to help that day, TCA presented Puff with a certificate, patch, lapel pin and truck decal. Crete Carrier Corporation also received a certificate acknowledging that one if its drivers is a Highway Angel.