Con-way Truckload driver Kevin Kimmel from Tavares, Fla. today was named the 2015 Harriet Tubman award winner by Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) for his actions that saved a woman from torture and modern-day slavery.
Kimmel received the award from Mark Brown, TAT Board president, and Kylla Lanier, TAT deputy director, at a special ceremony at Con-way Truckload’s headquarters in Joplin, Mo. today (April 3). At that same ceremony, he was awarded the Truckload Carrier Association’s Highway Angel Award,
On the morning of Jan. 6, Kimmel caught a glimpse of a distraught-looking young girl in the darkened window of an RV which had pulled into theNew Kent, Virginia truck stop where Kimmel had stopped for some sleep.
Suddenly, her face was gone, almost as if it had been yanked away by someone.
Kimmel reported later to media that he, “saw a guy come up and knock on the door, then go inside the truck stop, then quickly came back and knocked again, all of the sudden the thing was rocking and rolling.”
He decided things didn’t looked right and called the police. When police responded, they found an Iowa couple in the RV, along with a 20-year-old malnourished and frightened young woman, who said the couple had kidnapped her two weeks earlier in Iowa, had physically and sexually abused her and then forced her into prostitution. The couple was arrested and charged with sex trafficking.
Kimmel, who has daughters and granddaughters, learned the gruesome details of the case through the news. “I’m just happy I helped her,” he said.
The award, which carries with it a $2,500 check, is named in honor of famed abolitionist Harriet Tubman, whose courageous personal actions resulted in the transportation of 300 slaves to freedom through the Underground Railroad and whose overall role in the freedom movement was instrumental in the freeing of thousands more.
“Because of Harriet Tubman’s connection to transportation through the Underground Railroad and her heroic work to free thousands of slaves, TAT believes she epitomizes the symbol of freedom a trucking anti-trafficking award represents,” said Kendis Paris, TAT executive director. “And we’re proud to say that Con-way Truckload partners with TAT in the training of their employees with TAT materials. To date, they’ve trained over 1500 of their employees. Driver Kevin Kimmel’s actions in reporting the suspicious activity he saw while resting at a truck stop is exactly the type of action we want to recognize with the Harriet Tubman award. This award was created to honor a member of the trucking industry each year whose direct actions help save or improve the lives of those enslaved or prevent human trafficking from taking place.”