Kentucky-based trucker named Highway Angel for helping at scene of fiery, fatal crash

Brian SmithBrian Smith

A truck driver out of Louisville, Kentucky, has been named a Highway Angel by the Truckload Carriers Association for helping at the scene of a fiery crash that killed four people.

On March 25, Brian Smith was driving his flatbed near Lordsburg, New Mexico, when he saw a plume of black smoke rising into the sky about a mile away. He soon came upon the scene of a collision between two tractor-trailers in which one had crossed the center median, hitting the other head-on, along with a pickup truck.

Smith assumed no one survived, but he says it was clear people were trying to help the occupants of the pickup truck. He pulled over and ran to see what he could do. He saw the pickup’s roof was ripped off, and he could see two people sitting in the front seat. Someone said the passenger was deceased, and the driver was unconscious and severely injured.

“There were two other people trying to get him out of the pickup, but flames from the semis were spreading so fast and were getting too close to the vehicle,” Smith says. “They were trying to pull the pickup out with a two-strap (used for strapping cargo down) hooked to another pickup, but they’re not meant for that.”

Smith ran to his truck and grabbed a two chain, which was then hooked to the pickup, allowing it to be dragged back 15-20 feet from the flames. Two nurses who stopped at the scene began doing triage. A young girl, who Smith later learned was 13 years old, was pulled from the back seat and a Life Flight was called for her.

Smith later learned the driver passed away and doesn’t know how the girl is doing.

“Because I know there’s a chance she survived, she’s on my mind,” Smith says. “I’ll probably never forget her face. It made me think of my own kids.”

For his willingness to help, TCA presented Smith with a certificate, patch, lapel pin and truck decals. His employer, Mercer Transportation, also received a certificate acknowledging their driver as a Highway Angel. EpicVue sponsors the TCA Highway Angel program.

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