2006 WINNER: Michael Hunt
Selfless Truck Driver to Be Honored as “2009 Highway Angel of the Year”
For only the second time in history, a Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) Highway Angel will be recognized in front of 34,000 football fans during Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl, a post-season, NCAA-sanctioned Division I FBS college football game. The bowl game will take place on December 30, 2009, at Bronco Stadium at Boise State University, and will be broadcast live on ESPN to millions of viewers beginning at 2:30 pm MST.
The bowl’s viewers will learn how Michael Hunt, a former truck driver for Mail Contractors of America (MCA) of Little Rock, Arkansas, and now an owner-operator, helped to save a life at the scene of an otherwise fatal accident. TCA Chairman Kevin Burch and President Chris Burruss will then join representatives from Roady’s Truck Stops, the Humanitarian Bowl, and Internet Truck Stop in the end zone to present Hunt with TCA’s “2009 Highway Angel of the Year” trophy. Richard Clair, president and CEO of MCA, will be by his side as he receives the award.
Hunt was selected as Highway Angel of the Year by a committee of the TCA Communications & Image Policy Committee, which ranked his good deed against the other Angels named in 2009. The subcommittee utilized a scorecard of criteria, such as how many other motorists stopped to help, the degree of difficulty of the good deed performed, and information provided by highway officials and incident bystanders.
Hunt was driving his tractor-trailer at approximately 2:20 a.m. when he came across a two-car collision that had just occurred on NC 24 near Spring Lake, North Carolina. Two vehicles were involved in the crash, and both had come to rest within five feet of each other. Initially, Hunt attempted to put out the flames on one of the vehicles with his fire extinguisher. But the blaze was too strong, and that driver perished. Realizing that the second driver was still alive, Hunt used his tractor-trailer to push the vehicle away from the fire.
According to the report written by Trooper J.E. Stahl of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, “When Mr. Hunt did this, it damaged his own vehicle. Mr. Hunt’s quick actions helped to save a life from serious injury or death from burns.” The Patrol later honored Hunt with an award for valor.
When asked to tell the story of what he did, Hunt is modest, downplaying his importance in saving a life that day. “I’m glad I could help one of the drivers, but when I think about the other person who died—that’s tough for me,” he said.
Chris Burruss, TCA’s president, is not surprised at Hunt’s response. “We receive hundreds of Angel nominations each year, and the drivers are almost always shocked to hear that they are being recognized for their good deeds. For them, the highway is their workplace, and helping others is simply the right thing to do. It’s not about monetary gain or publicity,” he said.
In this case, however, with the Humanitarian Bowl being aired on ESPN, both Hunt and the Highway Angel program will receive widespread recognition. “Roady’s is pleased to once again offer our bowl as the vehicle to convey this driver’s story to the millions of people who will be watching the game from home as well as at the field,” said Kelly Rhinehart, co-founder and owner of Roady’s Truck Stops of New Plymouth, Idaho. “The general public should know that truck drivers routinely stop to help others in need and that they are unsung heroes of the highways.”
During the Humanitarian Bowl weekend, Hunt will be very busy. After flying to Boise, he and his wife will take a sightseeing tour and then attend the Humanitarian Awards Dinner. On game day, they will eat at the Breakfast of Champions and participate in a pre-game party. They will watch the game from a heated sky box seat, and Hunt will receive a warm Roady’s coat as a souvenir. After the trophy presentation and game, Hunt and his wife will be treated to dinner with the rest of the TCA delegation and then return home the following day.