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    -166.900
    -1.3%
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Highway Angel of the Year extinguished potentially deadly car fire

Christopher Lloyd was filling in on a run when he came upon a car crash

One early November morning in 2020, Christopher Lloyd was somewhere he wasn’t usually. The Airline Transportation Specialists driver had been pulled in to assist when another driver was unable to complete his run. Perhaps it was destiny.

“That wasn’t my normal run that night,” Lloyd said. “The driver that usually takes that run had broken down. The dispatcher called and asked if I could take it. I was delayed by over an hour, but somehow it all lined up for me to be there at that precise moment in time to hopefully save their lives.”

It was nearly 3 a.m. when Lloyd was pulling his rig down a surface street on the way to the FedEx hub in Nashville, Tennessee. He came upon a single-vehicle crash. The car, which had struck a galvanized power pole, was on fire and the two occupants were trapped inside.

“There were other vehicles pulling up and watching, taking pictures, but not getting out to help,” Lloyd shared with the Truckload Carriers Association.

Rushing back to his cab, Lloyd called 911 and pulled out his fire extinguisher. Initially unable to extinguish the blaze, Lloyd tried to open the vehicle’s doors, but they were locked.

“I ran back to the truck for a winch bar and my 10-pound hazmat extinguisher to finish putting the fire out and to bust out the windows,” he said.

The driver was pinned to the wheel but breathing, he said. The male passenger had been thrown into the back seat “and was in pretty bad shape. I checked and found a pulse and he was breathing,” Lloyd said.

Another bystander jumped in to assist and with the fire out, the pair stabilized the victims until medical assistance could arrive. Lloyd has not been able to find out whether the two occupants survived, he said, but police told him his was the only 911 call made, and without that call, the two would have likely burned to death.

For his heroics, Lloyd has been named the TCA 2021 Highway Angel of the Year. He was honored at TCA’s Truckload 2022: Las Vegas conference in Las Vegas this week.

The Highway Angel of the Year award is sponsored by EpicVue.

Lloyd was one of three 2021 Highway Angel recipients who were finalists for this prestigious honor. For the first time in the program’s history, the public was encouraged to cast votes for this year’s recipient. More than 1,600 individuals took part in the poll.

Lloyd said he became a volunteer firefighter at the age of 16 and attended a firefighting academy before joining the U.S. Coast Guard.

“The night of the fire, it all came flooding back … how to manage a scene,” he said. “Just like it was yesterday.”

Lloyd was joined onstage by his wife, Chrissy, and 10-month-old son Jimmy to receive a personalized crystal truck.

“Thank you for your selfless act of courage that night,” EpicVue CEO Lance Platt said after presenting Lloyd with the truck.

Lloyd will receive a complimentary EpicVue satellite TV package that includes a 24-inch flatscreen TV, a DVR and a one-year subscription to over 100 channels of DirecTV programming, including premium channels such as HBO, Cinemax, Showtime and the NFL Sunday Ticket.

“Airline Transportation is very proud of Chris and feel so honored to have such a man representing our company,” Airline Transportation President Tom Medved said. “His hard work as a driver is only exceeded by the size of his heart.”

Since 1997, TCA’s Highway Angel program has recognized professional truck drivers who have selflessly helped others while on the job. From each year’s recipients, one is selected as Highway Angel of the Year because he or she best embodies the spirit of the program.

Click for more articles by Brian Straight.

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Brian Straight

Brian Straight leads FreightWaves' Modern Shipper brand as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and fleetowner.com. Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler. You can reach him at bstraight@freightwaves.com.