TORONTO, Ont. – There was plenty of awards given out at the OTA Convention & Executive Conference at the Ritz-Carlton in Toronto last week that honoured the most heroic, safe and dependable people in the Ontario trucking community.
First up, the Bridgestone-OTA Truck Hero award was given to Ian Fleury of Canada Cartage, who has been driving for more than 25 years. Fleury was given the award for the courageous action he took during two separate incidents this past winter.
In March while driving on Highway 81 in the Poconos Mountains, Fleury watched as a pickup truck in front of him veered into a truck driver’s lane and caused a major collision. The truck overturned on impact and both trucks slammed into the guardrail. Fleury pulled over immediately to try and help out.
“The passenger door (of the crumpled tractor-trailer) was jammed shut so I ran back to my truck and grabbed a cell phone and load bar. I returned to the (crashed) truck and told the guy to watch out. Then I smashed the window,” he recalled.
Fleury then helped the driver out of the cab and called 911.
Less than two weeks later, while driving along highway 401 after a snowstorm, Fleury noticed smoke and flames from a stalled car ahead of him. He quickly jumped to action after noticing the immediate danger (and the fact that the driver was still in the car) and quickly blocked two lanes creating a barrier between other cars and drivers and the burning car. Fleury told the driver of the burning car to quickly get out of the vehicle (the driver was not aware his car was on fire) and shortly thereafter the car became completely engulfed in flames. Thanks in large part to Fleury, no one on the highway was harmed.
“Honestly, I didn’t think what I did was that special,” he said. “I think I just did what anybody who would come across something like that would do – at least you would hope they would.”
Canada Cartage president Jeff Lindsay said Fleury is a “gentle giant” who is always thinking of others. “We’d clone him if we could. Ian always seems to put others first. He wears a baseball cap instead of a cape, but other than that he’s superman around here.”
David Bradley, president of the OTA said: “Ian always appears ready to answer the call to lend a helping hand or come to the rescue of someone in need. It takes a special person to put themselves at risk for the sake of strangers. OTA is proud to present this award to such an extraordinary driver. He does the industry proud.”
The 2014 Volvo Trucks Canada-OTA Ontario Driver of the Year was named at the convention as well.
Dale Cockins of Meyers Transport was the thrilled recipient.
He has been driving for 47 years and has accumulated 8.5 million accident-free kilometres.
“For me, this award is like going to heaven,” said Cockins who grew up Roslin, Ont. “ At this point in my career, being recognized for doing a good job in the industry I love and have spent my life in is something that’s very special to me. I am extremely grateful.”
President of Meyers Transport, Jacquie Meyers said: “He’s efficient, he’s dependable and above all, he’s safe. Equally important, he always puts customers first. He goes the extra mile to make sure our customers are happy whether he’s met them or not.”
Cockins was one of the drivers who volunteered to deliver food and supplies to those in need during the 1998 ice storm in Quebec and Eastern Ontario – a moment he said was the most gratifying of his career.
“It was trucks that got people back on their feet – it was trucks!” he said. “I’ll never forget that – the smiles the handshakes – just how thankful they were for every load. That’ll stay with me forever.”
Volvo Trucks Canada Ontario district manager, Peter Currie said: “It’s an absolute pleasure to present this award to a driver as deserving as Dale. Dale personifies what truck driving should be about – courteous, professional and safe. He genuinely cares about the people he works with, his customers and the other drivers he shares the roads with.”
Finally, the Shaw Tracking-OTA Service to the Industry Award was given to Scott Smith, president and CEO of JD Smith.
Kate Rahn, national director, sales & marketing of Shaw Tracking, who presented Smith with the award said, “Scott exemplifies the important history of this prestigious award and the traits of the best industry leaders – commitment, responsibility and compassion. It is inspiring to know that this award is just a milestone in Scott’s career and that we can look forward to many more years of contribution from Scott to the Ontario Trucking industry.”
Smith was chairman of the OTA from 2004 to 2006 and is the current chair of the OTA Education Foundation as well as a board member on the Trucks for Changes network.
“I remember meeting Scott when we were both very young an starting out in the business – he with JD Smith and me with OTA,” said David Bradley. “Not only was Scott clearly a principled and intelligent person, it was evident from the outset how much Scott cared about the industry and for OTA.”
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