TORONTO, Ont. — Chris Fulton, an owner-operator with Speedy Transport, has been posthumously honoured with the 2012 Bridgestone-Ontario Trucking Association Truck Hero Award for his bravery and selfless actions. Each year, OTA and Bridgestone Canada recognize a professional truck driver who has demonstrated courage, quick thinking and integrity in the face of an emergency. The award was presented to his widow, Teresa Fulton, at the OTA’s 86th annual convention in Toronto.
On the night of his 11th wedding anniversary, Fulton called his wife from his parked truck to say he would be home shortly.
Fifteen minutes later, the 38-year-old entered a rural intersection in Hampstead, Ont. As he crossed, a passenger van full of migrant farm workers ran a stop sign and veered straight into his path. Fulton reacted quickly. He tried to avoid hitting the vehicle head-on, but it was too late. Despite steering away, his truck hit the van, and flipped on its side. Fulton lost his life – as did 10 of the 13 occupants in the van.
At the time, investigators determined the Feb. 6, 2012 accident would have been much worse had Fulton not steered away at the last second. His actions, they said, saved the lives of three of the occupants in the van. In fact, police say he likely would have lived had he not manoeuvred his truck, but there’s little chance there would have been any survivors in the other vehicle.
“It takes an extraordinary human being to do what Chris did that night,” says David Bradley, president of the Ontario Trucking Association. “We should all be grateful for truck drivers like Chris Fulton who go about each and every day quietly, safely and professionally. And sometimes, without warning, they find themselves with a choice to put their own lives at risk to save others. Somehow, brave men like Chris always answer the call.”
In a commemorative video produced by the OTA for the award presentation, Fulton’s wife and other family members described that while he was modest and shy, he would have been extremely proud to be honoured by his industry peers.
In the video, Teresa also explains how two of the survivors viewed Fulton’s actions that night.
“Two of the survivors whom I’ve met…did tell me that right before they and Chris locked eyes. So, Chris saw there were people in the back of that van. (They) told me they believed that Chris saved their lives,” she says. “He did the very best he could and he saved three people’s lives. He’s my hero.”
The traditional cash prize associated with the Truck Hero Award this year will be donated by OTA and Bridgestone in Christopher’s memory to the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, which was the charity chosen by Teresa.
“Christopher embodies everything a truck hero is meant to be,” said Leighton Watkins, regional fleet sales manager for Bridgestone Canada. “Chris put his life on the line to help others, and though it is a tragic loss of life, we are proud to memorialize his bravery and selflessness with this award.”