LOUISVILLE, KY. Here at the Mid-America Trucking Show, truck driver Jason Harte was named the 30th annual recipient of the Goodyear North American Highway Hero Award. Harte, of Rogers, AR, was honored for the selfless actions he took to rescue a family of six from a smashed minivan along a highway median.
Harte, who works for works for Missoula, MT-based Sammons Trucking, was chosen for the honor from among four finalists.
Harte was driving down an Interstate last July when he saw a speeding pickup truck push a minivan off the road and slam into another car, pushing it to the highway median. While bystanders helped the car’s driver, Harte approached the heavily damaged minivan and saw a man and woman holding a six-month-old infant, who were frantically trying to get out of the vehicle. Harte noticed that three other children were trapped inside the van. He dialed 911, helped the man, woman and baby out of the van, and then rescued the most accessible of the three other children.
Then, working with others who stopped to help, Harte – a former paramedic – opened the van’s back hatch and performed first aid on the next child, then pulled her out through the door. He pulled apart seats and cut seatbelts to rescue the remaining child. Calling upon his EMT experience, Harte helped rescue crews tend to the victims’ injuries, which ranged from broken legs to internal bleeding, until ambulances arrived.
“Jason Harte’s quick thinking and brave actions rescued a family of six from a terrible situation,” said Gary Medalis, director of marketing for Goodyear Commercial Tire Systems. “Jason’s decision to offer assistance is a powerful example of the selflessness exhibited by professional truck drivers. Because of his actions, lives, in all probability, were saved. For this, Jason has earned the right to be called a hero.”
As the 30th Goodyear Highway Hero Award winner, Harte received a special Highway Hero ring, a $5,000 cash prize and other items.
Harte and three other truck drivers were selected as finalists for the Goodyear Highway Hero Award.
The other award finalists:
The late Christopher Burgess, an independent truck driver from Ravenna, OH. After picking up 15 tons of sand, Burgess was driving a truck down a steep hill in Akron, OH, when its brakes failed. Fighting to keep the truck under control, Burgess waved his arms and honked the vehicle’s horn while it sped down the hill toward a busy intersection at an estimated 50 mph. He maneuvered the truck between two buildings full of people and steered toward bushes and trees at the rear of the property, behind which was a river bank. The truck hit a tree and dropped into the river below. Burgess died in the accident.
Chad Dickey of Wadena, MN, who drives for Tony’s Transfer. Dickey was driving near Chattanooga, when he came across vehicle debris, including a fuel tank, scattered across the highway. Dickey stopped his truck, grabbed his flashlight and went to investigate. He spotted some tracks on the pavement and followed them to a nearby ditch, where he found the remains of an 18-wheeler, including the exposed driver’s seat to which Lewis Boyd, another truck driver, was still strapped. Boyd had suffered a massive gash in his leg and was passing in and out of consciousness due to rapid blood loss. Dickey applied a tourniquet to Boyd’s leg for 30 minutes while keeping him alert until rescue personnel arrived. They airlifted Boyd to a local hospital, where he spent more than a month recovering from his injuries.
David Williams of Angier, NC, who drives for Schneider National. Williams was driving down an interstate in Wilmington, N.C., when he spotted a disabled car ahead of him. It was raining heavily, and the car had spun around, facing oncoming traffic. Williams stopped his truck and raced to the car. He placed safety cones around the car and began directing traffic away from it. Suddenly, Williams noticed a pickup truck approaching at high speed. He jumped out of the way to avoid being crushed by the pickup, which slammed into the back of his rig and burst into flames. The pickup’s driver escaped while Williams pulled the truck’s passenger out of the burning vehicle. He then helped extinguish the flames that had engulfed the pickup.
“Each of these finalists is a hero in his own right,” said Goodyear’s Medalis. “Each took action without regard to his personal safety and saved other people’s lives. We are honored to recognize these selfless professionals for their acts of courage and compassion.”