It was not an easy choice when it came to choosing this year’s 32nd Goodyear Highway Hero, as all three finalists risk their lives to save others. In the end, Clinton Blackburn of Morehead, Ky., was selected as the winner, a truck driver who saved a law enforcement official from being strangled by a prisoner.
“Whether he had won this or not, he’s my hero,” said Spencer County Sheriff Darrell Herndon, who was on hand to congratulate Blackburn.
Blackburn was driving near Elizabethtown, Ky., last year when he observed a sheriff’s cruiser lurch toward the highway median and abruptly stop. He pulled up to investigate and noticed that the car’s driver side door was open. Inside, Herndon was being strangled from behind by a prisoner, who was leaning over the back seat.
Blackburn ran to the car, reached into the vehicle through its driver side door, and began struggling with the prisoner in an effort to free Herndon, who was immobilized by his seat belt. During the melee, the prisoner pulled Herndon’s gun from its holster. Blackburn immediately grabbed the barrel of the gun and pointed it toward the car’s dashboard. Meanwhile, Herndon released his seat belt and rolled out of the car. The prisoner then tried to point the gun at Blackburn, who turned the weapon around and aimed it at the prisoner.
Pointing the gun at the prisoner, Blackburn backed away from the car. Realizing that the cruiser’s keys were still in the ignition, the prisoner tried to start the car and drive away. Working together, Blackburn and Herndon subdued him.
“Clinton’s brave, decisive actions ensured that Darrell would be home with his family that night,” said Gary Medalis, marketing director, Goodyear Commercial Tire Systems. “Clinton acted without regard for his own safety, literally putting himself in harm’s way to save another person. He has earned the right to be called a Goodyear Highway Hero.”
As the 32nd Goodyear Highway Hero Award winner, Blackburn receives a special Highway Hero ring, a $5,000 prize and other items.
Blackburn and two other truck drivers were selected as finalists for the 32nd Goodyear Highway Hero Award. The other finalists include:
David Fredericksen, a driver from Windermere, Fla., was driving down an interstate near Gulfport, Miss., when he saw a car crash into another truck and catch fire. He grabbed his fire extinguisher and ran to the car. Fredericksen repelled the fire enough to reach the car’s passenger side door. By this time, several bystanders had joined him. They helped him remove the passengers, including a woman and a one-year-old child, from the blazing car. By the time firefighters reached the scene, the vehicle’s passenger area was completely engulfed in flames. The incident was captured by Fredericksen’s dashboard camera.
Mack Guffey, a driver from Gainesboro, Tenn., was driving near New York City when an SUV passed his truck and slammed into the guard rail. The SUV flipped over and landed on its side. The front of the vehicle burst into flames. Guffey stopped his truck, grabbed his fire extinguisher and ran over to the SUV. While fighting the fire, he tried to reach into the vehicle through its broken windshield to grab its severely injured, semi-conscious driver. Using his extinguisher, he then smashed the SUV’s side window, grabbed the driver and carried him to safety. Fearing that other people were trapped inside the SUV, Guffey ran back to the now flame-engulfed vehicle. He discovered that nobody else was inside. Guffey, whose clothes had caught fire during the rescue and suffered several cuts and burns due to his efforts, stayed with the vehicle’s driver until help arrived.