The Truckload Carriers Association has named Brian Smith of Louisville, Kentucky, a professional truck driver leased to Mercer Transportation Company also of Louisville, Kentucky, a Highway Angel. He is being recognized for helping at the scene of a fiery crash that killed four people.
On March 25, Smith was driving his flatbed near Lordsburg, New Mexico when he saw a huge plume of black smoke rising into the sky about a mile away. He soon came upon the scene of a collision between two tractor trailers. One had crossed the center median hitting the other head-on along with a pickup truck. Both trucks had exploded into a ball of fire.
Smith figured no one survived but he says it was clear that people were trying to help the occupants of the pickup. He pulled over and ran to see what he could do. The pickup’s roof was ripped off. Smith could see two people sitting in the front seat. Someone said the passenger was deceased. The driver was unconscious and seriously injured. “There were two other people trying to get him out of the pickup but flames from the semis were spreading so fast and were getting too close to the vehicle,” Smith says. “They were trying to pull the pickup out with a two-strap (used for strapping cargo down) hooked to another pickup, but they’re not meant for that.”
Smith ran to his truck and grabbed a tow chain which was then hooked to the pickup enabling it to be dragged back 15-20 feet away from the flames. Two nurses who stopped at the scene began doing triage. A young girl, who Smith later found out from news reports was 13 years old, was pulled from the back seat. A Life Flight was called for her. Smith learned the driver passed away. He doesn’t know how the young girl is doing. “Because I know there’s a chance she survived, she’s on my mind,” Smith says. “I’ll probably never forget her face. It made me think of my own kids.”
For his willingness to assist his fellow drivers, TCA has presented Smith with a certificate, patch, lapel pin, and truck decals. His employer has also received a certificate acknowledging their 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.