Truck driver honored for freeing children from crunched minivan

Sept. 17, 2012

Trucker Jason Harte’s medical training came in handy at the scene of a bad accident where he helped rescue passengers — including four children — from a mangled minivan. Rogers, an owner-operator with Sammons Trucking, Missoula, MT, was named a Truckload Carriers Assn. Highway Angel for his heroic actions in the July 16 accident.

Harte was traveling on I-80 just east of Wamsutter, WY, when he saw a cloud of dust in the distance. As he approached the area, he saw that a pickup truck (later estimated to be going 75-80 mph at the time of the crash) had pushed a minivan off the road and then struck a car, pushing it into the median.

Since bystanders were already helping the car victims, Harte turned his attention to the crumpled minivan where he discovered a man and a woman holding a 6-month old baby who were frantically trying to get something out of the vehicle.

Harte, who is a first responder and a former paramedic and EMT, grabbed a first aid kit and medical gloves and went to help. It turned out that three children were still trapped inside. The third row seat had been pushed up to the second row seat, which was in turn pushed up to the front row seat where the parents had been.

Harte heard a bystander using her cell phone to dial 911 and asked to speak to the operator and described the severity of the situation based on his medical expertise. He then extracted the most accessible child, a 5-year old boy who was in the second row. He directed some of the bystanders to lay him on the ground, following basic spinal injury precautions.

Next, as emergency personnel began to arrive and assist, he asked the four strongest bystanders to help him reach the two girls trapped in the third row seats. At Harte’s suggestion, the men opened the minivan’s back hatch for better accessibility, allowing Harte to perform first aid on one of the girls. After someone removed a second row seat, he was able to slide her out.

By then, an off-duty EMT showed up. While the EMT followed spinal injury precautions, Harte held the child’s body and car seat. Firefighters pulled apart seats and cut seatbelts until there was enough space to extract the child.

“I have been a firefighter/first responder since 1989, including four years as an EMT, and what I encountered that day was the worst motor vehicle accident I’ve ever seen,” said Harte, noting that the injuries ranged from a broken pelvis, to broken legs, hips, arms and jaws, to fractured skulls and internal bleeding.

Harte noted that only two ambulances were available to transport the eight victims of both the car and the minivan, so he spent much time attending to the injuries while waiting for the ambulances to make return trips.

For his efforts that day, Harte has received a Highway Angel lapel pin, certificate, and patch. Sammons Trucking also received a certificate acknowledging that one of its drivers is a Highway Angel.

The Highway Angel program is sponsored for TCA 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.

To learn more about the Highway Angel program or to nominate a driver, go to www.truckload.org/highway-angel or visit the Angel Facebook page at http://on.fb.me/tcanews.

About the Author

Deborah Whistler

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of FleetOwner, create an account today!

Sponsored Recommendations

Leveraging telematics to get the most from insurance

Fleet owners are quickly adopting telematics as part of their risk mitigation strategy. Here’s why.

Reliable EV Charging Solution for Last-Mile Delivery Fleets

Selecting the right EV charging infrastructure and the right partner to best solve your needs are critical. Learn which solution PepsiCo is choosing to power their fleet and help...

Overcoming Common Roadblocks Associated with Fleet Electrification at Scale

Fleets in the United States, are increasingly transitioning from internal combustion engine vehicles to electric vehicles. While this shift presents challenges, there are strategies...

Report: The 2024 State of Heavy-Duty Repair

From capitalizing on the latest revenue trends to implementing strategic financial planning—this report serves as a roadmap for navigating the challenges and opportunities of ...