Two drivers named Highway Angels for assisting injured motorists after crash

Craig SutherlandCraig Sutherland Laurie CliffordLaurie Clifford

Two truck drivers for Bison Transport have been named Highway Angels by the Truckload Carriers Association for assisting numerous motorists after a crash and comforting an elderly woman in her final moments.

Laurie Clifford of Prescott, Ontario, and Craig Sutherland of Bracebridge, Ontario, were driving westbound on Highway 17 in Ontario on Aug. 22 with Sutherland leading and Clifford behind him when they noticed a car ahead of them swerve into oncoming traffic at approximately 60 miles per hour, hitting a minivan head-on.

Both drivers stopped, and Sutherland went to the vehicle that had been traveling westbound. He opened the passenger door and found the female driver trapped inside, then did his best to keep her alert and calm. The woman told him she had been reaching for a water bottle on the floorboard when she realized she was service and that she pulled the steering wheel quickly to correct the car back into her lane, but she pulled too hard and overcorrected into the wrong lane.

Meanwhile, Clifford ran to assist the minivan occupants. There were three passengers inside the van, which had fallen down a steep incline. He helped the driver and front passenger out, then went back to retrieve an elderly woman who was in the back seat. Her injuries were more severe, but she was able to sit on the side of the road and talk with Clifford.

Nearly an hour after the crash, police and emergency personnel arrived, with the ambulance arriving about 20 minutes later. Once paramedics arrived, the injured elderly woman was passing away with Clifford at her side. The crew attempted CPR, but it was too late.

“It was really hard on me, for quite some time,” Clifford said. “I go by that same spot every week and can still see that lady laying there. It was terrible. I’ve been driving for over 50 years and have seen a lot. You try to do what you can do, and that just comes naturally. But afterward…that’s when it hits you, what did I just do?”

Sutherland stayed with the other trapped driver until emergency crews could cut her out of the vehicle.

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Clifford and Sutherland were on the scene for eight hours that day. For their willingness to help, both were given a certificate, patch, lapel pin and truck decals. Bison Transport also received a certificate acknowledging their drivers as Highway Angels.