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Melton driver awarded for helping teens after slippery rollover

Image: Jim Allen/FreightWaves

The spotlight has been placed on another trucker for putting others first while on the road. The Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) recently named Justin Rockcastle of Wittmann, Arizona a Highway Angel. Rockcastle, a professional driver with Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Melton Truck Lines, Inc., stopped to help minors whose vehicle veered off the road and flipped.

May 23, 2019 was a miserable spring day that felt more like winter in eastern Utah. According to Rockcastle, it was cold, and alternately raining and hailing. The air temperature hovered around freezing as Rockcastle made his way along I-70 near Thompson Springs – an area about 170 miles southeast of Salt Lake City and about 5,200 feet above sea level. Although the posted speed limit was 80 mph, Rockcastle told TCA he was going 50 to 55 mph because of the road conditions and poor visibility. Checking his mirrors, he saw a white SUV coming up on his left side. As it got closer, it suddenly began hydroplaning and hit Rockcastle’s drive tires, folding the truck’s fender upward. Rockcastle said the SUV bounced up, did a 180-degree turn, and was thrown backward into the center median, a ditch, where it rolled multiple times.

Justin Rockcastle
(Photo credit: Truckload Carriers Association)

Rockcastle safely pulled over as quickly as possible and then ran back to the scene. Three other vehicles had also pulled over. The force of the impact had ripped the doors off the SUV and the contents of the vehicle were scattered across the median. Fortunately, everyone in the SUV had been wearing their seat belts. Only the driver appeared to be injured – a gash to the head. They were all dressed in shorts and t-shirts. Rockcastle ran back to his truck and grabbed a first-aid kit and his coat. He gave the coat to one of the passengers as one of the others took the first-aid kit and attended to the driver’s head wound.

The SUV and the three other vehicles were traveling together. The occupants told Rockcastle they were from Texas, on their way to California for a mission trip, and all of them were minors. Rockcastle noticed all of the SUV’s tires were bald.

“They should never have been on the road,” said Rockcastle. “Safety is a major thing with me. There weren’t any adults along and those kids didn’t have enough experience. Prayers were definitely answered that day.”
For his willingness to assist, TCA presented Rockcastle with a certificate, patch, lapel pin and truck decals. Melton Truck Lines, Inc. has also received a certificate acknowledging its driver as a Highway Angel. Since the program’s inception in August 1997, hundreds of drivers have been recognized as Highway Angels for the exemplary kindness, courtesy and courage they have displayed while on the job. EpicVue sponsors TCA’s Highway Angel program.

Nick Austin

Nick is a meteorologist with 20 years of forecasting and broadcasting experience. He was nominated for a Midsouth Emmy for his coverage during a 2008 western Tennessee tornado outbreak. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from the Georgia Tech. Nick is a member of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association. As a member of the weather team at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee, Nick was nominated for a Mid-South Emmy for live coverage of a major tornado outbreak in February 2008. As part of the weather team at WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nick shared the Chattanooga Times-Free Press Best of the Best award for “Best Weather Team” eight consecutive years.