Angels aren’t always just in heaven

by Brandi Cramer

CALEDONIA, Ont. – It was just another day for driving instructor Ken Curley and his student Morley Johnson as they cruised down Hwy. 54 headed towards Brantford in a 1991 Western Star day cab with a 45-foot trailer in tow.

Johnson, of Ohsweken, near Caledonia, and former water treatment plant operator, was in the midst of a career change training for his AZ licence with Curley, an instructor with KRTS Training Specialists Inc.

It isn’t every day that you have the title of Highway Angel bestowed on you, but after Feb. 11, these two individuals will carry the moniker for life.

They had what it took to be recognized when they were credited with saving a woman injured in an accident near Onondaga late last year.

The morning of Nov. 26, the two were driving along paying close attention to the road when the day’s events suddenly took a sharp turn and headed in a very different direction.

En route, Johnson noticed something blue in the trees.

“He thought maybe it was a tarp,” says Curley. “We couldn’t stop right away. So as we were going around, I looked in the mirror and realized it was a car. I could see the licence plate.”

The instinct to stop and help was the first thing on both their minds but an area to turn around did not make itself available.

“So we stopped in Kingsville and called 911,” explains Curley. “Then we headed back to go and see if we could assist this person in any way. By the time we got back, Six Nations Rescue (Ambulance) was on the scene.”

Four-wheeler Jennifer Ardiel of Brantford also noticed the car and was the first to stop and help the victim, Faye Doxtador. She had apparently fallen asleep behind the wheel and was trapped in the mangled car with a broken neck. The ambulance took her to Brantford then airlifted her to London.

“Anything can happen out there. It just takes a second for us to pick it up if we’re looking around and doing what we’re supposed to be doing,” says Curley. “You always have to keep your eyes moving.”

Johnson, now an AZ licence holder and driver for M.L. Captain Enterprises Inc. says the incident made him realize his driving senses are much more heightened since he has done his training.

“You’re more aware, you look beyond the front of your vehicle,” he explains. “It broadens your sights and you’re more focused on what’s going on around you.”

Both men were glad to be able to make sure the victim was getting assistance. “It was nice to know somebody was there to help her and that she wasn’t stranded,” says Curley.

Also a resident of Ohsweken, Curley was once a student with KRTS, too. He went on to drive mostly Eastern Ontario with McBurney Transport in Hagersville. After four years of hauling anything from lumber to dynamite, he stepped into the instructing position after he injured himself on the job pulling a tarp off a load.

“I slipped on some ice and bulged a disc in my back,” he says.

The award, sponsored by Petro Stopping Centres and Volvo, is a program of the Virginia-based Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) and was presented to Curley, Johnson and Ardiel who was the first non-professional driver to be recognized by the Highway Angels program.

“This award is for individuals in the industry who go above and beyond their call of duty. These people saved this lady’s life,” says Kim Richardson, president of KRTS. “Far too often these people go unrecognized. I commend TCA and especially the sponsors, they do a lot.”

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