Diana, Texas truck driver Rick Dent was named the 22nd Goodyear North American Highway Hero for rescuing a man and his two children from a car that was sinking in a water-filled ditch.
The driver of the car, Bob Strictland, landed in the ditch when he swerved to avoid hitting a deer along U.S. 84 near Jena, LA on July 14, 2004. Dent pulled his truck over to ask Strictland if he needed help.
“No I can’t get out and the car is sinking,” Strictland answered.
Dent, a 6-ft., 300-lb. man, jumped into the 40-ft. wide ditch, in which live snakes were swimming, to get to the car.
“This huge man pulled the door open about three inches, but it was stuck,” said Strictland. “Suddenly my daughter screamed again, and he grabs the door and pulls it off the car like it is made of cardboard.”
Strictland’s children, Megan and Paul, were helped to solid ground, and Dent later returned for Strictland, whose foot was lodged under the dash. Dent dove and freed Strictland’s foot and then swam him to safety.
“The car sank before he got me to the bank,” Strictland said. “I have a new respect for truck drivers.”
Dent was awarded a $10,000 U.S. Savings Bond and a gigantic specially designed size 17 Goodyear Highway Hero ring during the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, KY last week.