Canadians finalists for ‘Highway Heroes’ award

AKRON, Ohio (March 11) — Two Canadian truck drivers have been named finalists in the 1998 Goodyear North America Highway Hero program, the trucking industry’s most prestigious award for heroism.

Michael Asselin and Mark Savarie have been nominated for stopping to help a fellow driver from the cab of a burning tractor-trailer loaded with explosives. Asselin and Savarie, both of Sudbury, Ont., are the first Canadians nominated for the Goodyear Highway Hero award.

They will compete with three American nominees. The winner will be awarded at the Mid America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky., March 25.

Asselin and Savarie were operating separate rigs for ETI Transport Ltd. on Hwy. 17 west of Sudbury when they encountered a truck that had collided with a rock cut and caught fire. Seeing that the trailer was placarded as carrying explosives, Asselin told onlookers to clear the area while Savarie took the driver of the wreck away from the scene. The cargo exploded, scattering debris for more than a mile and leaving a crater in the road.

Asselin and Savarie were named Bridgestone/Firestone Canada Truck Heroes last November.

Other finalists for the Goodyear award are:

* Christopher Sackos, an owner-operator from Palm Bay, Fla., who rounded a bend on I-495 in the dark, saw brake lights ahead, and an object that appeared to be a duffel bag in the middle of the road. As his rig drew nearer, he realized it was a young woman, apparently thrown from her vehicle in an accident. Sackos used his rig to cut off other drivers at the scene, keeping traffic away from the woman, then jumped from his truck to assist.

* Wayne Carpenter of Keene, N.H., who drives for Cheshire Oil Co., was enroute to pick up a load when he saw a car veer into a head-on collision with an oncoming truck. Both vehicles erupted in flames. Carpenter emptied his fire extinguisher into the flaming wreckage, but was unable to control the blaze. When the injured passenger of the wrecked automobile managed to pull himself out of the flames, he asked Carpenter to get the driver out of the car. Ignoring the flames and any risk to himself, Carpenter repeatedly tried to enter the car to remove the unconscious driver. Finally, he succeeded, but later the driver was pronounced dead at the accident scene.

The driver of the other truck had been seriously injured when thrown clear of the wreck, and Carpenter’s calls for aid resulted in getting help for the man.

* Jamie Pritchard of Elk Park, N.C., was a driver for Jack Hicks Inc., when he attempted to help the occupants of a passenger car who had been in an accident. The effort cost him his life.

Pritchard apparently attempted to take a mother and two children from a disabled vehicle to a place of safety. Police reports said that as Pritchard attempted to remove one child, he saw another truck bearing down on him. He thrust the child back into the disabled car in time to save her, but the truck struck and killed him instantly.

Pritchard’s widow, Wyndy, will accept honors on his behalf.

Goodyear’s North America Highway Hero program was expanded last year into 12 newly established regions in the United States and Canada so that more drivers can participate in the benefits of the Highway Hero program.

Anyone can nominate a driver by calling program headquarters at 1-800-627-2118 for details and criteria.

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