LOUISVILLE. Ask Frank Vieira, this year’s Goodyear Highway Hero, if he’d do it again, and without hesitation he says he would three times over.
It was an extremely tense scene where seconds meant life or death. Vieira was driving a tanker truck off his regular route in Canada when he was coming over a bridge, heard a screeching sound, and came across a motorist who was in a crash and was pierced through the lower neck by his steering wheel.
When Vieira realized what was happening, he got out of his truck and rushed to the victim and put his hand on his neck to put pressure on the wound to stop the blood. With his free hand, he used his cell phone to call 911. Meanwhile, a driver of a roll off truck who came over to see what happened, fainted on the side of the road when he saw the gruesome scene. Vieira, while still on the phone with 911 and holding the victim's neck to apply pressure, noticed that the passed-out man's left leg was in incoming traffic. With no hands free, Vieira used his right leg to pull that man's leg out of harm’s way and closer to him.
“It all seems like it was a half hour, but it all happened in three minutes,” Vieira told the media during Goodyear’s 35th annual Highway Heroes event at the 2018 Mid-America Trucking Show.
“If you ask me today if I was still on the phone while I was pulling [the driver's] leg in, I would try to run it through my mind and I think, was I, was I not?’” Vieira said. “Everything happened so fast, but I was too busy to think about it. If another person asked me what time it was, I don’t know if I could do it, I was too busy. It happened too fast.”
Vieira was this year’s Goodyear Highway Heroes winner, and this year marked the 35th anniversary of the Goodyear highway hero award.
In addition to Vieira, the two other finalists were:
Brian Bucenell (second from right in photo above) from Richmond, VA, who had just merged out onto the Ohio Turnpike and found himself in close proximity to a high-speed chase involving state troopers and a stolen car. While maintaining highway speed, Bucenell used his 18-wheeler to sandwich the car against a guardrail, giving authorities time to catch up to the vehicle and arrest its occupants.
Ryan Moody (at right above) from Tacoma, WA, who was driving down a busy Chicago freeway when a motorcyclist crashed in front of his truck. Moody maneuvered his truck to protect the badly injured motorcyclist from other vehicles and then wrapped his own shirt around the motorcyclist's head to prevent further blood loss, staying with him until paramedics arrived.
This award was established in 1983 to honor truck drivers who put themselves in harm’s way to help others on the road. They've saved children from drowning, helped police officers when they needed it most, and even saved people from burning vehicles.