A driver for Arkansas-based CalArk International was recently honored for his efforets to rescue the driver of a car that crashed in Tennessee last October.
The Truckload Carriers Association named Matthew Lawson, from Kernersville, North Carolina, a Highway Angel for rushing to pull a man out of his vehicle after it veered down an embankment next to a river.
As a truck driver for nearly 20 years, there have been many times Lawson has pulled over to help motorists who are stopped on the side of the road. But one incident, in October, called on him to go above and beyond. He was leaving Mountain City, Tennessee, on Highway 91, around 1 a.m. when he witnessed a vehicle swerve off the road and topple over an embankment headed straight for the river.
“It rolled several times and became wedged between the bank and a tree next to a river,” said Lawson. “I could see the tires of the vehicle were still spinning and the lights were still on.”
Lawson pulled over and then climbed down the embankment. He opened the driver’s door and found that the driver, a man in his early 20s, was unconscious. “I reached down and took his foot off the gas pedal so the wheels would stop spinning,” said Lawson. “The tires were digging into the dirt. I didn’t feel safe leaving him in the vehicle because if it dislodged from the tree it would go into the river.”
Lawson carefully leaned the driver back, put his arms around him and lifted him out of car and onto the bank. “I readjusted my grip around his hips and waist and began to climb the hill to pull him to safety.” Lawson had nearly crested the hill when the driver began to struggle. “I assured him that I had him and everything was okay, that there had been an accident, and I was trying to get him to safety,” said Lawson. The driver said he could walk so Lawson helped him up to the road and toward his truck. He then called for help and waited for first responders to arrive.
“I don’t know what caused him to go off the road,” said Lawson. “He couldn’t say much. I could tell he had a concussion. I tried to get him in my truck to get him warm, but he couldn’t make the climb and sat on the step instead. My mother was a nurse and I’ve always followed what she’s said about head injuries,” he said. “I kept talking to him as we waited for the first responders.” After they arrived, Lawson went back to the vehicle and retrieved the driver’s phone. “He wanted to call his folks,” he added.
TCA has presented Lawson with a certificate, patch, lapel pin, and truck decals. His employer has also received a letter acknowledging him as a Highway Angel.
Since the program’s inception in August 1997, nearly 1,300 professional truck drivers have been recognized as Highway Angels for the exemplary kindness, courtesy, and courage they have displayed while on the job.