Stephen Lill awarded the Bridgestone-OTA Truck Hero award
November 15, 2013
(Nov. 15, 2013) – On a spring afternoon in Oakville Ontario, a tanker truck negotiating a ramp at the QEW at Royal Windsor Drive suddenly rolled over at the mouth of the highway. The driver, suffering from life-threatening injuries,...
(Nov. 15, 2013) – On a spring afternoon in Oakville Ontario, a tanker truck negotiating a ramp at the QEW at Royal Windsor Drive suddenly rolled over at the mouth of the highway. The driver, suffering from life-threatening injuries, became trapped inside as diesel fuel quickly spilled out of the truck.
Contrans Flatbed Group driver Stephen Lill of Stoney Creek, Ont. happened to be travelling closely behind on the ramp and witnessed the devastating accident first-hand. Overcoming his shock, Stephen immediately pulled his truck over near the crash and sprung into action.
“When I got out of the truck there were some guys that told me to stop,” Lill explained. “They said no one could have survived that so don’t bother going to the truck. I said ‘have you checked?’ They didn’t. So I said ‘get out of the way, I’m checking.”
Stephen crawled partway into the cab and became talking to the severely injured driver, trying to keep him conscious and establish communication . During all this Stephen was on the phone with 9-11 while also calming tensions from bystanders who implored Stephen to leave the scene for fear the diesel fuel would ignite and blow up the tanker.”
“I just told him, ‘I’m sorry but there’s nothing I can physically do to help you.’ But I told him that no matter what I wouldn’t leave him,” he says. “I asked if he could hear me and he moved his fingers.”
Due to rush-hour traffic, it took nearly half an hour for emergency personnel to arrive at the scene. Eventually, workers freed the injured driver and an air ambulance flew him to Hamilton General Hospital with life-threatening injuries. Fortunately, he made a full recovery, thanks in part to Stephen’s courageous efforts.
Those actions were honoured last night at the Ontario Trucking Association’s annual convention in downtown Toronto. At a dinner ceremony, Stephen was given the prestigious OTA-Bridgestone Truck Hero Award, which recognizes professional truck drivers who demonstrate courage, quick thinking and integrity in the face of an emergency.
“Stephen has made everyone at our company incredibly proud and we are thrilled the OTA chose spotlight his extraordinary act of heroism,” says SteveBrookshaw, VP of Contrans Flatbed Group. “His compassion for this driver whom he did not know is astounding, admirable and inspirational.
Kim Trudgeon, the daughter of the driver Stephen helped, credits him for helping to save her father’s life. “Stephen is definitely a hero to our entire family,” says Kim. “We are so thankful that through divine intervention it was Stephen there that day, who put my dad’s well-being ahead of his own. We honestly believe that staying there with my dad, trying to keep him conscious, offering encouragement is a big reason why he’s still with us today. Stephen’s amazing.”
Added Jim West, Director of Commercial Products, Bridgestone: “It takes extraordinary courage to do what Stephen did and we’re so proud to present him with this award.” Bridgestone Canada has been presenting the Truck Hero award since 1956.
The recipient of the Truck Hero Award must be a full-time truck driver of Canadian citizenship who operates a truck with 14 wheels or more. The winner is selected from among nominations submitted by Ontario-based companies or members of the public who witnessed or were involved in an incident.
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