Highway Angel calls for help after fellow trucker suffers stroke

Joel DeesJoel Dees

Joel Dees, a driver from Port Orchard, Wash., who drives for Doug Andrus Distributing out of Idaho Falls, Idaho, has been named a Highway Angel by the Truckload Carriers Association for saving another truck drivers’ like after she suffered a stroke while alone in her truck.

On March 1, 2015, Dees was leaving Illinois heading for Sidney, Neb. The day before, he had been talking with another Doug Andrus driver who told him she’d be parking in Sidney for the night, and they agreed Dees would call her in the morning when he was loaded and on the road.

“I called her a couple of times and she did not answer,” said Dees. After several attempts there was finally an answer. “I thought she had forgotten to put on her headset so I was rousing her to stop fumbling.”

A sense of concern then crept over him when Dees did not hear her voice, but instead a slurring sound. Dees listened closely and thought he heard her say the word “help.” At this point, Dees knew something was wrong, and he called 911.

“She and I talk daily while we are out on the road,” Dees said. “I knew from previous conversations that she had a history of strokes.”

After speaking with the Iowa and Nebraska 911 operators and relaying his concerns, an officer was dispatched to the area where the truck was to be parked. Dees stayed on the phone waiting.

“I listened as the officer confirmed my suspicion that [the driver] had a stroke while alone in her truck,” he said.

Dees notified the company and the drivers’ family to explain what had happened and where she was being treated.  He’s been driving for six years and makes it a point to stay in touch with other drivers throughout his day.

For his willingness to help, TCA has presented Dees with a certificate, patch, lapel pin and truck decal. Doug Andrus Distributing also received a certificate acknowledging one of its drivers as a Highway Angel.

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