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Truckers who died helping accident victims named Highway Angels

Out-of-control SUV on wet West Virginia interstate claimed drivers’ lives

(Photo: Transportation Nation, Gang Zhou/iStock)

The Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) has posthumously recognized Adam “Troy” Miller, 53, of Hagerstown, Maryland, and Ashish Patel, 46, of Ontario, Canada, as Highway Angels for stopping to help at the scene of a serious accident last summer.

“He would do anything for anybody.” — Julie Miller, about her husband, Troy Miller, a trucker who died while helping car accident victims.

According to an article by the Transportation Nation Network, the fatal incident happened the morning of July 1 on Interstate 81 in West Virginia. A police report states there were two crashes near the entrance ramp to I-81 from the southbound rest area at mile marker 19.5. This is in the Hainesville area, about 6 miles north of Martinsburg. Heavy rain was falling.

Related: Trucker named Highway Angel for rescuing driver from burning car

The first crash occurred when two passenger cars lost control, hydroplaned and drove across the grassy median. Then, they struck a parked tractor-trailer and got wedged under it. Several motorists, including Patel and Miller, stopped to help. As they did so, an SUV also lost control, hit the rear of the parked tractor trailer, and then hit Patel and Miller. Both men died at the scene.

The Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office reported no other life-threatening injuries. The accident led to a complete closure of the rest area and two lanes of I-81 southbound for approximately seven hours.

Miller was a truck driver with Portner Trucking based in Thurmont, Maryland, and Patel drove for Bison Transport based in Winnipeg, Manitoba.    

Miller’s widow, Julie, shared with TCA that her husband had been a truck driver for 28 years and was on his way to work that morning. She wasn’t surprised that he had stopped to help.

“He was an excellent driver,” Julie Miller said. “He could put a big rig in the smallest space I’ve ever seen in my life. He took his job very seriously. And he always pulled over to help someone.”

Adam Miller’s children are Kristina N. Judkins (Miller), Joshua A. Miller and Brandon C. Miller. He also had a stepson, Joshua A. Mills, and grandson, Maveric M. Miller. He loved fishing, working on muscle cars and playing pool.

“He was a diehard, fall-over Pittsburgh Steelers fan. The only one in the family,” Julie added. “He was easy to smile, easy to laugh. He would do anything for anybody.”

Patel’s widow, Shilpa, told TCA that her husband enjoyed being a truck driver and always accepted challenges that came his way. He drove for Bison Transport for four years. In 2019, he received a Safe Driver Award for 250,000 miles of safe driving.

“He helped others get their licenses and learn about the job. He always encouraged people. He always shared the good points about the driving life,” Shilpa Patel said. “If someone was looking for a job, they would ask Ashish. He said if you are young, drive a truck, it will help you have a long road for your life.”

The Patels have a 7-year-old daughter, Vishwa.

Related: Trucker again named Highway Angel after helping accident victim

TCA recently presented each family with a certificate, patch, lapel pin and truck decals in recognition of the drivers. TCA also gave each trucking company a letter acknowledging Miller and Patel as Highway Angels.

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.

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.