The Truckload Carriers Association has named Ed and Tracy Zimmerman, a husband and wife team who drive for Hirschbach Motor Lines, Inc. “Highway Angels.” They are being recognized for their selfless courage in racing to pull a trapped motorist from his burning vehicle.
The duo left fear behind them one Saturday morning when they came upon a horrific accident. Tracy was at the wheel as Ed slept in the back. It was a normal day as they headed to Hodgkins, Illinois to make a delivery. Normally, Tracy stops every couple of hours to walk the two dogs that travel with the couple. However, since everyone was asleep, she decided to keep going. Tracy was on Interstate 77 near Beckley, West Virginia when she came around a curve and saw a UPS truck and another vehicle stopped just ahead of her. Looking farther up the road she could see a car was rolled over in the ditch and on fire.
Tracy stopped the truck, positioning it to block traffic as a motorist came running up frantically waving his arms and yelling for a fire extinguisher. He told Tracy the driver was trapped in the vehicle. Tracy grabbed the truck’s fire extinguisher and yelled for Ed and they both ran over to the car. They joined an off-duty firefighter who had also stopped at the scene. As another motorist used the Zimmermans’ fire extinguisher to keep the flames back, someone else ran over with a crowbar and smashed the passenger side window. The driver was conscious and told them his leg was stuck. Tracy and Ed worked with two other men to pull the man free and then carried him away from the vehicle. He told them he had a gun and ammunition in his vehicle. They moved as quickly as they could to put more distance between them and the vehicle which was now engulfed in flames. Just moments later, the vehicle exploded sending glass and metal flying.
Unharmed, Tracy and Ed remained on the scene until first responders arrived. As they got back in their truck, they checked the clock and found just 36 minutes had elapsed since arriving on the scene. “It was a surreal, incredible, life-changing moment,” Tracy says. She and Ed agree that they were supposed to be there at that time. “God puts us where he needs us the most,” Tracy says. “Two more minutes and that man would have been burned alive.” Although the driver was seriously hurt, the Zimmermans later saw a newspaper article stating the driver was expected to survive. He had come off a night shift and apparently fell asleep at the wheel as he headed to his daughter’s birthday party that day. “It was nice to have that closure of knowing he’ll be okay,” Tracy says.
Although the Zimmermans have encountered many accidents while out on the road this is the first time they’ve been among the first to arrive on the scene to help. “We just did what you should do—stop and help,” says Ed. “Someone was in need and we helped.”
For their willingness to assist their fellow drivers, TCA has presented the duo with certificates, patches, lapel pins, and truck decals. The Zimmermans’ employer has also received a certificate acknowledging their driving duo as Highway Angels. Since the program’s inception in August 1997, hundreds of drivers have been recognized as Highway Angels for the exemplary kindness, courtesy, and courage they have displayed while on the job. EpicVue sponsors TCA’s Highway Angelprogram.