Truck drivers' quick actions save lives on the highway

PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK

PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK

The Truckload Carriers Association has been recognizing Highway Angels, or professional truck drivers who demonstrate compassion and courage on the road, since its 1997 inception. Recently, seven standout drivers received the honor for acts of heroism performed.

“Their good deeds range from simple acts of kindness, such as fixing a flat tire, to heroic life-saving efforts, such as pulling someone from a burning vehicle and administering CPR,” according to the TCA website.

Highway Angels can be nominated by their employers, fellow drivers or the people they assisted. After the nomination comes in, the TCA verifies the details of the nomination before recognizing the driver.

Honored drivers receive a lapel pin, patch, decals and certificate of appreciation. Their employers also receive a certificate to display.

Truckload Indexes highlighted three of these drivers last week. Three more will be honored below.

Demetrice Reeves -- Kissimmee, Florida

Reeves, a professional truck driver for Stevens Transport, prevented a traffic accident when his student driver passed out behind the wheel last December.

Reeves and his student where traveling down Interstate-74 in Illinois during the student’s fifth week of training. The student was reportedly driving well but had not been feeling well the day before.

“As I looked over at him, his head suddenly flopped to the left and he went into seizure-like convulsions with his hand locked onto the steering wheel,” Reeves said. “Thankfully, when he passed out, his foot relaxed off the gas and as the truck slowed. I was able to start pulling the brakes from the side just enough to continue slowing the truck down.”

As the truck came to a stop, Reeves undid the student driver’s seatbelt, grabbed the 260-pound man, pulled him out of the driver’s seat to the space between the two front seats, and climbed over him. Once in the driver’s seat he safely pulled the truck and trailer off the road.

“It makes me feel good about my job,” Reeves said. “You just have to keep the wheels down and be safe.”

Melby Millirans -- Twin Lake, Michigan

Millirans drives for RM Trucking, and he is being recognized for stopping to help a motorist who fell asleep and crashed.

Late one night in February, Millirans saw a SUV traveling at high speeds run off the road, down a steep embankment and into a line of trees. Millirans called 911 and went to assist the passengers.

Through heavy smoke, Millirans saw the dazed driver trying to get out of the car. The motorist had severely broken his leg, and his foot was nearly severed. As the 911 operator told Millirans what to do, the driver told him he had fallen asleep and begged him to check on his daughter, who was in the backseat. He found a 9-year-old girl with a large contusion on her head. She was conscious.

“When I’m driving along, I rehearse what I might do if something happened,” Millirans said. “I think doing that helped me that night. I didn’t panic. You get your thoughts together. You figure out where you’re at, call 911 and grab a flashlight.”

Jacob Elkins -- Joplin, Missouri

Jacob Elkins, a professional truck driver for CFI, is being recognized for helping a fellow company driver after his truck went into a ditch.

Elkins was traveling down the interstate last May when he came across another semi-truck nose down in a ditch. Then, he noticed it was a fellow CFI truck. Elkins said the other driver could not talk and was very weak.

“He was breathing heavily, so I called 911 and dispatch,” Elkins said. “He didn’t want to move because he was too weak, but he was able to tell me his name.”

Elkins stayed with the driver until emergency personnel arrived. Elkins then called CFI to notify operations and the safety department. A representative with CFI shared that Elkins was a huge help to not only to the other driver, but also to everyone at CFI for relaying information and details on the man’s condition.

“I’ve been driving since I was 21 years old,” Elkins said. “I’ve seen trucks rolled over, stuck in ditches, fatalities and close calls. Just a few months ago a woman in front of me rolled her car, and I had to cut her out through the windshield. You drop what you’re doing and go at first instinct, even though you might lose time or miles.”