AKRON, Ohio Since its inception, the Goodyear North America Highway Hero Award has never had two finalists from the same city.
That trend was broken as Goodyear announced the four truck drivers up for the 24th annual award, with two hailing from Phoenix. Equally unique, three of the accidents occurred in one state Arizona.
Elizabeth Pavlista, of Miami, Ariz.; Edward Regener, of Perres, Calif.; Richard Miner, of Phoenix; and Marlon Marum, of Burnsville, Minn.; were named finalists for one of truckings most prestigious awards for heroism.
We are indebted to truck drivers across the United States and Canada who keep America rolling and who are there for us in a time of need, said Steve McClellan, vice-president for commercial tire systems for Goodyear. Truck drivers are the true American heroes. They have become the eyes and ears of our highways. And when weve needed help, they stopped and put themselves in harms way.
Journalists from the trucking industry are now voting on the four finalists, who will be introduced March 22 at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky. One driver will be named the 2006 Goodyear North America Highway Hero at the Truck Writers of North America annual banquet and receive a $10,000 U.S. Savings Bond, a plaque and a specially designed ring; the other finalists will receive a $5,000 U.S. Savings Bond and a plaque.
Elizabeth Pavlista, a driver for B.J. Cecil Trucking, was hauling her daily load of rock on an end-dump truck when a car passed her, lost control, hit a guardrail and rolled down an embankment.
Pavlista said she immediately grabbed a fire extinguisher, climbed over the guardrail and went to where the car rested upside down and on fire. Risking her own life, the six-year truck driver struggled to pull a large woman from the burning car, while helping another man operate the fire extinguisher. Just as the car fuel tank exploded, they managed to pull the woman farther from the flames.
The woman was airlifted by helicopter, but news reports said she later died. Pavlista, who drives by the spot everyday, said shes constantly reminded of that day and feels sad that the woman succumbed to her injuries.
Edward Regener, a driver for FedEx Freight, saved the lives of three men in a three-vehicle collision near Goodyear, Ariz. A car travelling westbound lost control, crossed the median and continued in the eastbound lanes. The car collided with a pickup truck with such force that the two vehicles struck Regeners truck, which was carrying hazardous, corrosive materials.
Fire erupted in the pickup truck, and in the cab and first trailer of the truck. Regeners shipment accelerated the fire and added to the toxicity of the smoke. Regener immediately worked to remove two men from the car and a man and woman from the pickup truck before the fire spread farther.
Regener was later transported to the hospital for smoke inhalation. A passenger in the pickup truck later died from her injuries.
Richard Miner, a driver for Saia Motor Freight, saved a young womans life when another tractor-trailer pulled into the passing lane and forced a car into the median. The car rolled several times and landed upside down.
The roof of the car had collapsed onto the seats; and the doors were jammed closed. He saw flames coming from the rear of the car and used his fire extinguisher to put out the fire; and somehow he was able to pry open the car door and pull the woman to safety.
He stayed with the severely injured woman until emergency crews arrived.
Marlon Marum, a driver for Con-way Freight, was making deliveries in downtown Minneapolis when he witnessed a Metro Transit police officer under attack by a man who was attempting to wrest control of the officers stun and handguns.
Marum pulled to the curb and sounded his air horn to draw attention to the altercation. He then ran to help the officer, who was pinned to the ground by the suspect inside a glass bus shelter. Marum grabbed the mans arms even after the stun gun was used again.
Marum, the officer and the suspect all received the shock. Finally, the officer was able to regain control of his weapons and the suspect.
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