On a dark winter morning, a professional truck driver named Brandon Walker rescued an injured man and father of four from a burning SUV. For his selfless actions, Walker has been named a Highway Angel by the Truckload Carriers Association.
Walker, who resides in Council Grove, Kan., is an owner-operator leased to Dart Transit Company of Eagan, Minnesota.
On January 18, 2013, just before daylight, Walker had finished dropping a load and was on his way home when he missed the turn he should have taken. By what he calls a “fate of God,” he wound up driving southbound along Highway 92 near Yutan, Neb. The roads were icy, and as he drove along, he passed a vehicle that had rolled over. Seeing that emergency crews were already there, he kept going.
Unbelievably, he came across yet another accident: an SUV had just collided head-on with another vehicle. No emergency personnel were on the scene yet. Walker, a volunteer firefighter for more than 15 years, immediately brought his truck to a safe stop, jumped out, and began accessing the situation.
He determined that the first driver was okay, so moved on to the driver of the SUV. The badly injured man appeared to be regaining consciousness, but just then, Walker saw movement out of the corner of his eye. Flames were shooting out of the SUV’s engine compartment.
Walker quickly ran back to his truck and grabbed a fire extinguisher. However, he soon realized that the small device was no match for the increasing flames. He shouted for some of the bystanders—who were milling around, but not offering any help—to assist him in extracting the driver.
The situation turned serious as the engine became fully engulfed in flames. “We need to get you out of here,” he told the dazed accident victim. He attempted to open the door first, but discovered it was jammed. That left the shattered driver’s-side window. With the help of one of the bystanders, Walker was able to pull the man out and move him a safe distance away.
Once paramedics arrived, and as Walker was helping them load the injured driver into the ambulance, the disoriented man panicked and said he could not remember whether his daughters had been with him in the car or not. Walker and another person returned to the vehicle and performed a second search, but fortunately no one was found inside.
The man Walker helped turned out to be another firefighter from a different precinct. He had just dropped two of his four children at a family member’s house prior to the accident. “I was very fortunate to have Walker stop and help so quickly,” he told Dart Transit gratefully. Despite suffering a concussion, skull laceration, two broken ribs, and a sprained ankle and wrist, he said, “I’m okay, but if it wasn’t for what Walker did, I wouldn’t be here. I owe my life to him.”
Walker modestly agrees. “If he had still been in his SUV, he would have burnt up; there’s no doubt about it in my mind,” he said. “I didn’t know he was a fellow firefighter, but it wouldn’t have mattered. It’s second nature for me to help people. When I see stuff like that, my training kicks in.”
For helping that morning, Walker has received a Highway Angel lapel pin, certificate and patch. Dart Transit Co. also received a certificate acknowledging that one of its drivers is a Highway Angel.
TCA's Highway Angel program is sponsored by Internet Truckstop. Since the program’s inception in August 1997, hundreds of drivers have been recognized as Highway Angels for the unusual kindness, courtesy, and courage they have shown others while on the job. TCA has received letters and e-mails from people across North America nominating truck drivers for the program.
To learn more about the program or to nominate a driver, go to www.truckload.org/highway-angel.