Two truckers were recently recognized by the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) for assisting people who were involved in accidents during winter storms. In each case, the drivers took the time to offer physical and emotional comfort and support while on the clock.
We start with Sam Dyess of Killeen, Texas, a professional truck driver for Melton Truck Lines of Tulsa, Oklahoma. He assisted a couple whose vehicle was pushed into his truck by another truck on a mountain overpass during a blizzard. On November 24, 2018, Dyess was just west of Cheyenne, Wyoming, driving over the mountains on I-80 with a load on his flatbed. He was heading to Washington state. The day was overcast when left Cheyenne, but heavy snowfall soon began and the temperature was in the lower 20s.
“It was really coming down and I couldn’t see the lines in the road,” Dyess told TCA. Three to four inches of snow had already accumulated by the time he reached the overpass. He slowed down to between 30 and 40 mph.
There was another truck ahead of him and a Jeep Wrangler traveling between the two trucks. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, the truck in front of the Wrangler stopped in the middle of the Interstate and the Wrangler stopped behind it. Dyess had plenty of following distance and stopped 20 to 25 feet behind the Wrangler. There was another truck behind him.
Dyess checked his mirrors, then a moment later saw the first truck rolling backward, about to start a chain reaction. “We were on an incline. I don’t know if he missed a gear or was sliding,” said Dyess.
The Wrangler shifted into reverse but could only go so far before being struck by the first truck, and being pushed into Dyess’s truck. Dyess couldn’t roll back because of the truck behind him. The Wrangler’s spare tire was pushed into Dyess’s front bumper and the force blew out the back window of the Wrangler.
“I was laying on the horn to get the other trucker’s attention,” Dyess recalled. “Then it moved forward and took off, never stopping to check on the Wrangler.”
The Wrangler resumed driving, as did Dyess. He called the safety manager at Melton to report the incident, relaying the information he was able to get about the first truck. He followed the Wrangler to the first exit where they both pulled to the side of the road. Dyess jumped out and went to check on the driver and passenger.
“They said they were okay and had called the state troopers but were told it would be at least an hour before a trooper could arrive,” said Dyess. He invited the driver and his wife to sit in his warm truck for nearly two hours while they waited. “We had a great conversation,” added Dyess.
His good deed that day didn’t go unnoticed. The couple he helped contacted Melton Chairman and CEO Bob Peterson, with a letter describing the incident first-hand. The driver and his wife were traveling home after a holiday weekend spent with family and were grateful for the help Dyess provided them.
“He offered us water and waited patiently with us. We thanked him for his help and then he said something I won’t soon forget: ‘We are the knights of the highway and it’s our duty to make sure everyone is safe.’ He possesses an attitude and professionalism that should make you proud.”
Dyess is humble about what he did that day. “I was just doing the right thing, trying to take care of business and maintain integrity,” said Dyess. “Being a professional driver, it’s about more than just getting from Point A to Point B. You also need to take care of everyone around you, that’s my job.”
Michael Morgan of San Angelo, Texas, also a professional truck driver for Melton Truck Lines, helped two people after they lost control of their SUV on slick roads and veered off the highway. It was around 8:00 a.m. on February 12, 2019, when Morgan was on Highway 295 on his way to Camden, New Jersey. He was trying to get ahead of a bad storm. It was snowing and sleeting and the condition of the roads was starting to get bad.
Because of the bad conditions, Morgan was going about 45 mph in the right lane. Suddenly, a Lexus SUV came around to his left and got just far enough in front of Morgan for him to see the vehicle’s license plate before the driver lost control on the slick road and spun out. Morgan had just enough time to apply his brakes, slow down, and missed hitting the SUV by mere inches before it veered off the road and slammed into a tree.
Another truck driver traveling behind Morgan saw what happened and radioed him asking if he was okay, telling Morgan he would call emergency services. Morgan pulled his truck to the shoulder and went to check on the people in the SUV.
There was extensive damage to the vehicle. The driver’s side had hit the tree, all the windows were broken and the roof was smashed in, preventing the doors from being opened. Two men were inside the SUV. Although they were badly shaken, they didn’t appear to be injured. Morgan noticed that the driver was wearing a wedding band and started asking him questions about his family to distract him while they waited for state troopers to arrive.
“He told me he had an eight-month-old son at home named Michael,” Morgan told the TCA, with some emotion in his voice. “I have four kids of my own. I would hope that if something like that happened to me someone would stop to help. I was raised in a small community where everyone takes care of everyone. You have to have compassion for others. It’s the right thing to do, otherwise we’re not doing what we’re supposed to in life.”
For their willingness to assist those in need, the TCA presented both Dyess and Morgan with a certificate, patch, lapel pin and truck decals. Melton Truck Lines also received a certificate acknowledging its drivers as Highway Angels. 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.