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Trucker honored for helping fellow driver during fierce rainstorm

The other driver’s truck overturned on an interstate highway

(Photos: TCA, Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

The Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) has named professional driver Joseph Brown a Highway Angel. Brown stopped to help another trucker whose tractor-trailer had overturned during a heavy rainstorm. Brown, from South Bend, Indiana, drives for Wisconsin-based Halvor Lines Inc.

On Aug. 10, Iowa was hit with a severe rainstorm accompanied by winds reaching nearly 100 mph. Brown was on a rural stretch of Interstate 35 heading north through the storm toward Minneapolis.

“It was getting really bad out,” Brown told TCA. “I’ve never driven in anything like that. You could barely see 20 feet in front of you.” He slowed down and pulled over for a few minutes, but the winds were pushing the truck.

Brown decided to get back on the road and was thankful for the extra weight of the load he was hauling. He went a little farther down the road and saw an overturned truck with the cab lying on its passenger side in the right lane. Brown pulled up about 20 feet from the truck and turned on his flashers to protect the truck and its driver from traffic.

“Trucks were flying by him and cars were going around. I wasn’t sure it was safe to get out,” Brown recalled. Brown sat parked for a couple minutes, and then the rain let up.  

“I decided to check on the driver,” Brown said. “I didn’t want to hesitate any longer.”

He found the driver standing up inside the cab. He had been able to maneuver out of his seatbelt.

“He was standing there wet. I offered to have him come and sit in my truck,” Brown added. “He said he’d been driving for 20 years.”

Although the driver didn’t have any visible injuries, he told Brown his shoulders were hurting from the seat belt. The man had already called 911.

Brown was worried about someone hitting them. “You couldn’t see 5 feet in front of you at one point, Brown said. “I was relying on my flashers so we wouldn’t get hit. It was too windy to put triangles out.” Flares would have been extinguished by the wind and rain.

The two men sat there for about 30 minutes until first responders arrived. EMTs assessed the driver’s condition and put him in an ambulance. Brown and the driver have stayed in touch since the accident.

Offering shelter may seem like a small gesture, but Brown was more than happy to do it. 

“There’s a lot of good drivers out there,” Brown said. “We gotta look out for one another.”

TCA recently presented Brown with a certificate, patch, lapel pin and truck decals. TCA also gave Halvor Lines a certificate acknowledging its driver as a Highway Angel.

Since the program’s inception in August 1997, nearly 1,300 professional truck drivers have been recognized as Highway Angels for the exemplary kindness, courtesy and courage they have displayed on the job. The program is made possible by Presenting Sponsor EpicVue and Supporting Sponsor DriverFacts.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.

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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.