An Oklahoma trucker has been honored for helping a fellow driver whose truck had caught fire.
The Truckload Carriers Association announced it has named Kris Stauffacher, from Collinsville, Oklahoma, a Highway Angel for stopping to help a fellow driver whose truck's trailer was engulfed in flames on the side of the road.
Stauffacher was heading north on I-45 near Alma, Texas around 4 a.m. one day in September of 2020 when he saw a truck on fire up ahead. He was working with a trainee. They immediately pulled over and Stauffacher grabbed his fire extinguisher and ran to the scene. “The trailer was pretty much fully engulfed,” he said. The driver was able to jump out of the cab and had already emptied his fire extinguisher. “It looked like the fire was coming from the drive tires.” said Stauffacher. He recalled working quickly to knock down the flames to keep them from spreading to the tractor. “They were starting to creep up on the sleeper,” he added. “The flames went into the trailer and just ate it up. I asked the driver what he was hauling and he said beer, so it wasn’t anything hazardous.”
The fire department arrived just a few minutes later and finished putting out the rest of the fire. Thankfully, the driver didn’t appear injured.
“I was shocked by how many people just drove by and didn’t do anything,” said Stauffacher. “This is a well-traveled road. We could have maybe saved the trailer. The ironic part is that I’ve been a trainer for five-and-a-half years. I tell them (student drivers) if there’s someone who needs help we need to stop. We have fire extinguishers and water and blankets on the truck. We can call for help and do more than just drive on. People would rather take videos on their cell phones than help. As a professional driver, nine times out of 10, if there’s an accident, normally we’re the first ones on the scene because there’s so many of us. That’s someone’s family member. It’s not mandated, but I can stop and render some help.”
Stauffacher has been driving for nearly 11 years. “I’ve come across several things in my career . . . I’ve reported brush fires, spinouts in the winter—I try to stop and help. We’re a brotherhood, we’re out here doing the same thing. I would want someone to help me.”
TCA has presented him with a certificate, patch, lapel pin, and truck decals. His employer has also received a certificate acknowledging their driver 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.
The program is made possible by Presenting Sponsor, EpicVue, and Supporting Sponsor, DriverFacts.