Drivers honored for rescues

| May 19, 2010

Shawn Hubbard (left) receives Highway Angel award from Josh Goldman, Ruan Transport terminal manager in Rialto, Calif.

Shawn Hubbard, a professional truck driver for Ruan Transport Corp. of Des Moines, Iowa, has been named a Truckload Carriers Association Highway Angel for saving the life of a young man who was trapped inside a burning car.

And Andrew Burkhart, a driver for FFE Transportation Services of Lancaster, Texas, has been named a TCA Highway Angel for helping two children who lost most of their family in a horrific accident.

In the early morning of Nov. 13, Hubbard was driving on I-60 in California when he saw flames from a car on fire. The car appeared to have smashed into several steel poles and had come to rest in a ditch against a 40-foot high embankment.

“As I stopped my truck and got out, I expected to see people standing around watching the fire, but there was no one. And then I saw two heads inside the car and realized lives were at stake,” said Hubbard.

Hubbard emptied his fire extinguisher, as well as a second extinguisher that was tossed down to him by an employee at a hotel above on the embankment. The extinguishers slowed the flames, but didn’t put them out. With the fire intensifying, he saw the driver was motionless and was probably dead. However, the passenger was still alive, pinned in by the crushed car and unable to unbuckle his seatbelt.

With adrenaline kicking in, Hubbard was able to pull a fence and collapsed roof off the car to allow the passenger to escape.

“I don’t care how badly you’re hurt, you have to crawl out of here… go… go!” Hubbard screamed at him. “If you don’t move, you’re going to burn to death!” Within seconds, Hubbard was pushing the more than 300-pound man up the hill to safety as flames engulfed the car.

Other than another truck driver who called 911 as he passed by and then returned to the scene, and the hotel employee who tossed down the fire extinguisher, not a single person stopped to help.

The 23-year old victim who was saved by Hubbard sustained broken cheekbones, several missing teeth and deep cuts around his knee. The 20-year old driver was pronounced dead at the scene.

The California Highway Patrol presented Hubbard with a Certificate of Commendation.  He also received an award from a Los Angeles County Supervisor, as well as a Gold “R” certificate from Ruan.

Hubbard is satisfied how things turned out that day. “I could have just kept on going when I saw the fire, but I didn’t,” he said. “One family had to deal with burying their son that day. I’m glad at least a second family didn’t have to.”

For his kindness, Hubbard has received a Highway Angel lapel pin, certificate and patch. Ruan also received a certificate acknowledging one of its drivers is a Highway Angel.

On March 26, Burkhart was driving on I-65, near Munfordville, Ky., when a van built to hold 15 people passed him. Moments later, he saw a tractor-trailer cross the median and slam head-on into the van before striking a cliff and bursting into flames.

Burkhart dialed 911, then approached the grisly scene, searching for survivors. Two young boys, held in place by car seats, were still alive and appeared unharmed. Burkhart brought them to his own truck, keeping them warm for more than half an hour until authorities arrived.

The police determined that 11 people died that day, including the driver of the tractor-trailer and 10 occupants of the van, most of whom were members of a Mennonite family on their way to a wedding.

For his kindness, Burkhart received a Highway Angel lapel pin, certificate and patch. FFE Transportation Services also received a certificate acknowledging one of its drivers is a Highway Angel.

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