Names Virginia Trucker Highway Hero
Hero, Derrick Harris, saves man on fire on side of road. |
21st annual Goodyear North America Highway Hero is a Virginia truck driver who
saved the life of an individual deliberately set on fire, then helped police locate
and arrest the person charged with the hideous crime. Derrick Harris, a driver
for Schneider National Carriers, accepted the award and a $10,000 U.S. Savings
Bond during the Mid-America Trucking Show.
On Nov. 12, 2003, Harris, a professional truck driver from Hopewell, VA, had just
left the Richmond area with a load that was headed to Knoxville, TN, when he noticed
a fire near the side of the road. Realizing it was actually a person on fire,
he drove to the person, stopped and secured his truck, then grabbed a blanket
and cooler of water. He extinguished the fire by wrapping the person in the blanket,
then soaked it with water for more comfort for the
Once the individual was down and comfortable, Harris ran back to his truck, grabbed
his fire extinguisher and put out a fire that had started in some surrounding
trees. While extinguishing the fire, he noticed a container that smelled like
kerosene. Harris stayed with the victim, trying to keep him conscious and comfortable
while he called for help on his cell phone and awaited emergency response.
Based on comments from the burn victim and other observations in the area, Harris
suggested to the responding local police that it appeared someone had deliberately
set the man on fire. With this information, police began searching the woods,
and found a suspect within three hours. The suspect admitted the next day to setting
the other man on fire. Though the victim suffered burns over 60 percent of his
body, Harris' quick actions helped save
his life, and he was integral in finding
the responsible party.
a case of being in the right place at the right time," Harris said. "When
I first saw the flames, I thought it was a brush fire. Then I noticed the fire
was moving, and I realized it was a person. It seemed like something from TV or
the movies, like it was a stunt man on fire."
someone suffer like that was terrible... something you wouldn't wish upon anyone.
For me, stopping to help was simply a reaction. I really didn't think about what
I was doing until it was all over. I just did what I had to do."
Harris, a driver with Schneider since October 2002, was also recognized by his
employer with Schneider's Presidential Citation Award.
motorists may have continued on their way, but Derrick Harris stopped to help
someone in need. Because of that decision, a life was saved and another person
was apprehended for the crime. For this, Derrick has earned the right to be called
a hero," said Steve McClellan, Goodyear's vice president of commercial tire
Founded by Goodyear in 1983, the Highway Hero program recognizes professional
truck drivers and the often unnoticed, lifesaving rescues and roadside assistance
they provide as their jobs take them across North America.
Harris was selected along with three other truck drivers as finalists for the
2003 award. Other finalists included:
David Dunham, Fitchburg, MA - Driving in New Mexico on a cross-country run, Dunham
came to the aid of a fellow truck driver, whose truck had crashed in the median
area of Interstate 40. In darkness, Dunham pulled the injured driver from his
burning rig, ignoring his own injuries sustained by climbing over sharp rocks
to reach the victim. Dunham was employed at the time of the rescue by Ronnie Dowdy
Inc., based in Batesville, AR. He now drives for U.S. Express.
Joe Sines, Horse Shoe Run, WV - When a van up ahead of him on I-77 in West Virginia
veered out of control and tumbled five times, he quickly stopped his truck and
ran to offer help. Sines was able to free two young girls from the crumpled vehicle,
cutting away their seat belts and comforting them, while calling for emergency
assistance on his cellular phone. The driver, the mother of the girls, was seriously
injured, and died a short time later. Sines is a driver for Schneider National
Carriers, based in Green Bay, WI.
Anne Spriggs, Willow
Springs, MO - She and her driving partner with CRST Van Ex, Ronnie Grider, had
just finished refueling at a truck stop near Paduca, KY, when a car stopped in
front of her truck. A woman jumped out and waved for help. Spriggs set the brakes,
jumped out of the truck and followed the woman to her car, finding a five-year-old
girl - unconscious and with her tongue rolled back, blocking her airway. A former
nurse, Spriggs recognized the symptoms of a grand mal seizure, so she moved the
girl's tongue forward and began administering CPR. The girl caught her breath,
and Spriggs continued with CPR until
an ambulance arrived to take the girl
to a nearby hospital.
like these make us all thankful that there are courageous individuals such as
professional truck drivers on our roadways," said Steve McClellan, Goodyears
vice president for Commercial Tire Systems. "In the 21 years since the inception
of the Goodyear Highway Hero program, we have heard about hundreds of truck drivers
who placed themselves in harms way to save someone else, and we believe
it is important that they be recognized publicly."
finalists were culled from nominees throughout the United States and Canada. A
panel of judges, consisting of members of the trucking and tire trade media, will
select the 2003 Goodyear North America Highway Hero.
To nominate a professional truck driver for the 2004 Goodyear Highway Hero Award,