Trucker honored for helping two other drivers in California crash

Updated Dec 9, 2022
Truck driver honored as Highway Angel
Richard Schjoth,

A California trucker is being honored for his efforts to rescue two other truckers whose rig went down a steep embankment.

The Truckload Carriers Association recently named Richard Schjoth, from Shasta Lake City, California a Highway Angel for rescuing two truckers whose semi crashed down a 75-foot embankment early in the morning. Schjoth drives for Cheema Freightlines, LLC out of Pacific, Washington.

TCA explains:

Schjoth was driving north on Interstate 5 near Los Banos, California, on Oct. 6, around 6:25 a.m., when he saw that a FedEX tractor-trailer had left the roadway, traveled down a steep, 75-foot embankment, and rolled on its side. Schjoth pulled over on the shoulder, grabbed his flashlight, and immediately ran down the hill to render aid at the scene.

“I climbed the barbed wire fence and went out in the field where they were laying on their side,” Schjoth said. “I thought, God please let them be alive.”

He found the driver in the front of the cab and his co-driver in the sleeper area. The driver in the passenger area, who was operating the truck when it left the highway, reported pain in his ribs and a possible head injury. The second driver in the sleeper berth had a head injury.

Schjoth found a way to pull the windshield free from the truck, and assisted the driver in the passenger area by pulling him up through the open windshield, freeing him from the truck, then to a safe area away from the scene. He went back to the truck and pulled the other driver out. “I got 9-1-1 on the phone,” he said, “and I said, 'I need two ambulances— one with a head injury and one with possible broken ribs.'”

Back up at the highway, he used the strobe feature on his flashlight to try and get a truck or other vehicle to stop and help, but none did. When he returned to the crash site, Schjoth noticed three horses got loose where the truck had gone through their fence, so he ended up herding the horses back into their pasture three times while on the scene, keeping them from escaping up and onto the interstate.

When the California Highway Patrol officer arrived and Schjoth explained what he had done to help, the officer seemed surprised that he had done so much. The officer told him he could depart and that emergency personnel were on the way.

“We lucked out that they were alive — they lucked out,” Schjoth said. When asked why he went to the lengths he did to assist, he said, “That’s another truck driver down there — they’ve got families — I didn’t do anything special; I just did what needed to be done.”

Since the program’s inception in August 1997, nearly 1,300 professional truck drivers have been recognized as Highway Angels for exemplary kindness, courtesy, and courage displayed while onthe job. Thanks to the program’s presenting sponsor, EpicVue, and supporting sponsor, DriverFacts, TCA is able to showcase outstanding drivers like Schjoth.