Goodyear names finalists for 28th Highway Hero Award
As finalists for the 28th annual Goodyear North America Highway Hero Award, a Texas truck driver administered life-saving CPR to a victim of a high-speed crash; a Washington truck driver pulled an unconscious driver from a car seconds before it was struck by a train; a Nebraska truck driver provided aid to a driver who had sustained life-threatening injuries after falling asleep and striking his rig; and a Florida truck driver stopped his 18-wheeler and applied his emergency medical training to help save a seven-year-old girl who had stopped breathing.
These professional truck drivers – Jaime Avitia, of El Paso, Texas; Tilden Curl, of Olympia, Wash.; Bill Howard, of Litchfield, Neb.; and David Nelson, of Orlando, Fla. – were named finalists today for trucking’s most prestigious award for heroism.
“These four individuals represent the thousands of professional truck drivers who work every day across North America. Each year, this program offers an opportunity for recognition of those who put their lives on the line to help others,” Joseph Copeland, vice president for commercial tire systems for The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, said in a written statement.
“This year, our honored truck drivers all helped to rescue strangers who were in life-threatening peril. In each case, these drivers were able to literally save a life,” Copeland continued. “Time after time, truck drivers have emerged as bona fide heroes. When individuals along North American highways have needed assistance, truck drivers have stopped to help, and sometimes put themselves in harm’s way.”
For the 2010 award, the finalists are the following:
Jaime Avitia, of El Paso, Texas, a driver for Stagecoach Cartage. Early in the morning of Aug. 31, 2010, Avitia was driving on I-10 on his way to a company facility in Laredo, Texas. Beneath I-10 at this point is Highway 17 and a dead-end service road, where he noticed a pickup truck driving at high speed. He watched as the pickup suddenly left the roadway, hit a concrete drainage culvert nose-first, flipped into the air and landed upright.
Avitia quickly stopped his truck, grabbed a flashlight and first-aid kit, and ran down the embankment toward the accident. Upon reaching the truck, he opened the front door, but couldn’t find anyone inside. He then realized the driver – not wearing a seatbelt – had been thrown into the back seat of the crew cab. Unable to find a pulse, Avitia was able to kneel on the front seat, squeeze between the arm rests and administer CPR on the man. After four chest compressions, the man finally coughed and began to breathe. As another man approached the wrecked pickup, Avitia told him to call 911. Until paramedics arrived, Avitia applied a towel and gauze to the man’s bleeding head and kept him comfortable.
Tilden Curl, of Olympia, Wash., a driver for Tecco Trucking. Just after noon on Oct. 27, 2010, Curl was driving southbound on Highway 99 near Tulare, Calif., when a vehicle appeared to lose control and cross traffic, leaving the highway and finally coming to a stop with its front wheels lodged over the railroad tracks that run parallel to the highway.
Curl stopped his truck to check on the car, then noticed a train was coming. An elderly woman exited the passenger side of the car, and Curl yelled for her to get clear of the tracks. He then noticed that the driver was unconscious and trapped inside. At first, the door couldn’t be opened, but Curl was able to squeeze his arm inside and unlock it. Working quickly, he was able to unfasten the man’s seatbelt and drag him out of the car and away from the area just seconds before the train collided with the stranded vehicle.
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