Driver Takes Control When Student Driver Loses Consciousness
Demetrice Reeves of Kissimmee, Florida, a professional truck driver for Stevens Transport Inc. of Dallas, Texas, has been named a Highway Angel by the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA). He is being recognized for his quick actions in preventing an accident when his student driver passed out behind the wheel.
At 2:30 p.m. on December 16, 2018, Reeves and his student driver, were on Interstate 74 in Illinois, about a day-and-a-half out from delivering a load to Pompano, Florida. The student driver was in his fifth week of training and was driving well. However, the day before, he hadn’t been feeling good, complaining of fatigue. “We stopped for the night so he could get some sleep,” said Reeves. The next day, after lunch, the student driver once again mentioned he wasn’t feeling well. “After a break, when we were back on the road, he began slowing down as we approached a curve,” recalled Reeves. “As I looked over at him, his head suddenly flopped to the left and he went into seizure-like convulsions with his hand locked onto the steering wheel.”
Reeves quickly grabbed the wheel. “Thankfully, when he passed out, his foot relaxed off the gas and as the truck slowed, I was able to start pulling the brakes from the side just enough to continue slowing the truck down,” he continued. As the truck came to a stop, Reeves undid the student driver’s seatbelt, grabbed the 260-pound man, pulled him out of the driver’s seat to the space between the two front seats, and climbed over him. Once in the driver’s seat he safely pulled the truck and trailer off the road. Reeves called 911 and directed emergency personnel to his location. The student driver was taken to the hospital.
Reeves says after he calmed down from the adrenaline that rushed through his system that day, he realized just how lucky he and the student driver were. “He was driving well and I trusted him to drive,” added Reeves. “But I thought I should keep an eye on him since he hadn’t been feeling well.” Later, Reeves took an Uber to the hospital to check on the man and take him his belongings before getting back on the road. Reeves says he was able to deliver the load to Pompano, unharmed and on time.
His coworkers congratulated Reeves on his ability to react quickly under extreme circumstances—a life or death situation—that likely saved his student’s life as well as his own and those of other motorists. “It makes me feel good about my job,” he says. “You just have to keep the wheels down and be safe.”
For his willingness to assist his fellow drivers, TCA has presented Reeves with a certificate, patch, lapel pin, and truck decals. Stevens Transport Inc. 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.