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Trucker named Highway Angel for rescuing family after rollover

Man, grandson pulled from pickup truck that flipped onto roof

(Photo: TCA, Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

The Truckload Carriers Association has named trucker Grant Quinton, from Noble, Oklahoma, a Highway Angel for rescuing a man and his young grandson from their overturned vehicle and keeping them safe until authorities arrived.

In the early morning hours of Feb. 6, about 30 minutes before sunrise, Quinton was sitting in the passenger seat while training another Decker Truck Line Inc. driver. They were driving north on Interstate 35 near Tonkawa, Oklahoma, when they noticed an overturned Dodge Ram pickup truck. 

Quinton told FreightWaves that a snowstorm had just come through that area a couple of days prior, but the roads were clear that day.

“I at first assumed it was just a leftover vehicle [from the storm] that hadn’t been towed yet,” Quinton said. “But then as I got closer and saw the headlights and smelled the rubber burning, I realized it just happened.”

Related: Highway Angel of the Year extinguished potentially deadly car fire

Apparently the pickup truck had a blowout, the vehicle rolled and nobody had stopped yet to help. Quinton’s trainee safely pulled the truck over to the shoulder so they could render aid.

As Quinton approached the vehicle, which had flipped onto its roof, he heard thumping. So he ran back to his truck and grabbed a rubber mallet. Moments later, he returned to the accident scene while calling 911 and smashed a window.

“I was able to help get them out of the truck,” Quinton told TCA. “It was a 10-year-old boy and a grandpa, and I got them across the street behind my semi.”

Quinton said the only physical injuries he could see were some cuts on the boy’s hands. However, the youngster was very shaken up.

“The boy was terrified. He was scared and clearly in shock,” Quinton recalled.

The grandfather kept walking around saying he was all right. Quinton set up safety triangles behind his semi to keep traffic at a distance.

He offered the two water and blankets, which they gratefully accepted, and he kept checking on the child because Quinton thought he may have had a concussion. He thought about letting them wait in the cab of his truck, but he didn’t want them climbing in and out of the rig, fearing they might get dizzy and fall. Emergency crews arrived within 10 minutes of the 911 call and took over.

“Just do what’s right,” Quinton, who has been a truck driver for only a few years, said about why he stopped to help. “I’m gonna stay on the road for the rest of my life. If I have the chance to do a job that I really like, see a bunch of places and I also have a chance, where somebody’s in trouble and nobody’s there and I can help them, that’s worth being gone and doing this job.”

TCA gave Quinton a certificate, patches, lapel pin and truck decals. He said he was “choked up” after receiving the award. TCA also gave Decker Truck Lines a letter acknowledging Quinton as a Highway Angel.

“It was a good feeling,” Quinton added. “I got the stickers on the truck, my wife is framing the certificate, mother-in-law’s putting the patches on my jacket.”

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 while on the job.

Quinton told FreightWaves that he also received Decker’s Hero of the Week award for what he did that cold February day.

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.