For the fifth year, the Truckload Carriers Association has selected a Highway Angel of the Year who best embodies the spirit of the organization's Highway Angel program. This year's recipient is Kenny Cass, a driver development instructor for FedEx Freight of Portland, Ore.
TCA and Internet Truckstop, the Highway Angel program sponsor, will tell Cass' story to thousands of fans at the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 15, at 2:30 p.m. at Bronco Stadium in Boise, Idaho.
On March 22, at approximately 8:10 p.m., Cass was driving along Martin Luther King Blvd. in Portland when he witnessed a pickup truck rear-end a tractor-trailer. The pickup was now wedged up to its windshield under the truck.
Cass immediately called 911, turned on his flashers, and placed his vehicle 50 yards behind the scene to warn oncoming traffic. He approached the pickup and found the bloody and disoriented driver still alive, wearing his seatbelt, and talking on his cell phone. Cass told him to remain still and wait for help to arrive.
He then checked on the driver of the tractor-trailer and found her to be okay, but also somewhat disoriented. He was able to locate the reflective triangles in her rig and put them together. Holding them in front of his chest so no one would hit him, he placed the triangles an appropriate distance from the wreck to warn oncoming traffic.
As he returned to the pickup, Cass saw that smoke was now billowing from beneath it. Fearing a possible fire, he smashed the window and pulled the driver out. He got the man to sit in a safe place nearby. Then he rushed back to the driver of the tractor-trailer, got her out of her vehicle, and grabbed her fire extinguisher.
Meanwhile, the pickup driver had left the scene, apparently still in shock, and began running toward oncoming traffic. Cass got him to safety and applied bandages until help arrived. During the 20 minutes before emergency responders arrived, no other motorists stopped to help Cass.
As the Highway Angel of the Year, Cass will be flown to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl for public recognition. After the audience hears the story, Cass will be presented with a trophy saluting his willingness to stop and help when no one else did.
"Although this incident highlights one extreme occurrence, I have noticed that Kenny shows this type of assertiveness to help and support everyone he comes in contact with," said Mike Harris, Cass' service center manager at the FedEx facility in Portland. "He is well respected by all of his colleagues and students and definitely thinks of others before himself. I am proud to have Kenny Cass on the Portland team."
As Cass is honored before the 34,000-person audience, the event will spotlight not only the Highway Angel program, but the trucking industry in general.
The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl is the nation's longest-running outdoor cold-weather Bowl, played since 1997. A post-season, NCAA-sanctioned Division I FBS college football bowl game, the Bowl features a top selection from the Western Athletic Conference and the Mid-American Conference. It will be televised on ESPN.