Trucker Julian Kaczor of Utica, N.Y., has been named Goodyear’s 2016 Highway Hero. Kaczor rescued a man from a burning car last July following a crash that occurred right in front of him and his truck. The announcement came Thursday, March 31 at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville.
“I’d like to thank my fellow truckers and Goodyear for showing recognition [to truckers] that do right on the road,” Kaczor said when accepting the award.
Kaczor, a driver for Leonard’s Transportation, received $5,000 from Goodyear and a ring and trophy as part of the award. The other two finalists in the annual contest were Mark Cavanagh from Hillsville, Virginia, and Dorian Cole from Los Angeles.
The event that led to Kaczor’s recognition happend in July 2015, when a passenger car driver driving erratically around Kaczor’s truck in a construction zone lost control and crashed into roadside barriers right in front of Kaczor.
He pulled over, noticed the car was on fire and grabbed his fire extinguisher to attempt to put the fire out. When he couldn’t, he says, he began prying at the car’s door with his hands, eventually opening the door and pulling the crash victim from the car.
Kaczor said he was “shocked” he won, tipping his hat to the other finalists for the award. He also encouraged fellow truckers to help other motorists on the highway when they can. “Don’t be nervous about it. Just jump out and do what you have to do to help out in the situation,” he said.