Bison driver Kenichi Tanisaki honored for helping trainer who fell ill

Trick driver

A Canadian trucker new to the profession is being recognized for helping his trainer when she experienced a medical problem while they were on the road.

The Truckload Carriers Association recently named truck driver Kenichi Tanisaki, from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, a Highway Angel for getting his trainer help during her medical emergency while driving from California to Canada. Tanisaki drives for Bison Transport based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. 

TCA explains:

On the evening of May 26, 2021, he was driving on Interstate 5 with his trainer, Julie. Tanisaki had only been driving for two months.

The two were heading toward Langley, British Colombia, coming from California. Tanisaki noticed that Julie was in distress and not acting normally. “She looked like she was sick,” he said. “I asked her if she was ok, but she said she was fine.”

Truck driverKenichi Tanisaki,TCAHe continued to be concerned because she looked like she was getting worse. “I asked her a couple of times if she wants me to call 911, but she kept saying no.” Tanisaki pondered what to do; he was in the U.S. still and wasn’t sure how insurance, payment, and family might play a role if Julie was hospitalized outside of Canada. Plus, she insisted he not call 911.

When they got close to the Canadian border, she woke up and seemed confused, didn’t know where she was, and was talking to herself. “I realized that something was wrong and I really had to take action,” recalled Tanisaki. “I decided to go back to my company yard and ask for help.”

At Tanisaki’s request, Bison Transport staff called an ambulance, and Julie received urgent medical attention. The paramedics told Julie that had she not gotten help, she most likely would have died within the hour. She was in a coma for seven weeks and had to have a kidney removed, which also left her other organs damaged.

Just recently she returned to work and is very grateful to Tanisaki for saving her life. “I am so happy that it was not too late to call the ambulance,” he said. “Now she is recovered from her kidney infection – I did not do anything special; I just did the right thing.” 

TCA has presented him with a certificate, patches, lapel pin, and truck decals. The company has also received a letter acknowledging him as a Highway Angel.