PROFESSIONAL TRUCK DRIVER, NORMAN LONEY, JR. REMAINS CALM AND HELPS ELDERLY COUPLE DESPITE EXPLOSIONS ALL AROUND HIM
Norman Loney, Jr., of Richmond, Virginia, an owner operator leased to Brown Trucking of Lithonia, Georgia, has been named a Highway Angel by the Truckload Carriers Association. Loney is being recognized for being the first on the scene to help victims involved in a horrific accident.
On June 22, 2012, at about 7:45 a.m., Loney was headed eastbound on Hwy. 460, a well-traveled road that connects the Petersburg area to the Tidewater area in Virginia. Two vehicles followed behind him: a white van and, behind that, a tractor trailer carrying a container.
A vehicle in front of Loney was traveling too slowly, so Loney signaled his intention to move into the left lane to pass it. Both the van and the tractor trailer behind him did the same. After passing, he signaled to get back into the right lane and casually glanced in his mirror. With shock and disbelief, he saw the tractor trailer careening across the median into oncoming traffic. It crashed into another 18-wheeler head-on. There was a huge explosion and a fierce fire.
As Loney was processing all this, he realized that the container the first tractor trailer had been carrying was now on fire and “chasing” his truck. He managed to avoid it and safely bring his vehicle to a stop on the shoulder. He grabbed a fire extinguisher and rushed to the accident scene, where he attempted to help the drivers of the two tractor trailers. However, both vehicles were engulfed in flames and were much too hot to approach.
He then turned his attention to the white van, which had flipped over and was on fire. An elderly couple was inside. The man refused to get out without his wife. Loney used the fire extinguisher to put out the fire and then summoned help from other motorists. Together, the group righted the van and pulled the couple out.
According to Loney, the scene was sheer chaos. “There were explosions everywhere. Diesel was on the ground, and the van was leaking all kinds of fluids, which added to the danger. Not to mention that fire was shooting out at us. On top of that, the couple had many injuries,” he said. “It was unbelievably horrific.”
It was later discovered that the couple had caused the accident. They had been driving with their dog, looking for a new veterinarian building that had recently been built. When the husband realized he had found the building, he made a sharp turn in front of the tractor trailer, cutting it off. The truck driver lost control of his vehicle, and the result was the terrible accident that claimed the lives of both truck drivers.
This incident is the second time that Loney — a professional driver since 2004 — has helped someone involved in an accident. Six years ago, he suffered second degree burns on his shin while helping someone whose car ran into a jersey wall.
The Highway Angel program is sponsored for TCA by Internet Truckstop. Since the program’s inception in August 1997, hundreds of drivers have been recognized as Highway Angels for the unusual kindness, courtesy, and courage they have shown others while on the job. TCA has received letters and e-mails from people across North America nominating truck drivers for the program.