TCA HIGHWAY ANGEL SAVES 23-YEAR OLD TRAPPED INSIDE BURNING CAR
Shawn Hubbard, a professional truck driver for Ruan Transport Corporation of Des Moines, Iowa, has been named a Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) Highway Angel for saving the life of a young man who was trapped inside a burning car.
On November 13, 2009, at approx. 3:35 a.m., Hubbard had just made a delivery and was heading east on I-60 in California when he came across flames from a car that was on fire. The car appeared to have smashed into several steel poles and had come to rest in a ditch against a 40-foot high embankment. It had gotten tangled up with a chain link fence and had pieces of the fence both on the roof and underneath the vehicle.
“As I stopped my truck and got out, I expected to see people standing around watching the fire, but there was no one. And then I saw two heads inside the car and realized lives were at stake,” said Hubbard.
Hubbard emptied his fire extinguisher, as well as a second extinguisher that was tossed down to him by someone at a hotel located high above on the embankment. The extinguishers slowed the flames, but could not put them out. With the fire intensifying, he saw that the driver was motionless and was probably dead from very severe injuries. However, the passenger was still alive, pinned on all sides by the crushed car and unable to unbuckle his seatbelt by himself.
With adrenaline giving him an extra boost of energy, Hubbard was somehow able to pull the fence and collapsed roof off the car so the passenger could escape.
“I don’t care how badly you’re hurt, you have to crawl out of here… go… go!” Hubbard screamed at him. “If you don’t move, you’re going to burn to death!” Within seconds, Hubbard was pushing the more than 300-pound man up the hill to safety as flames fully engulfed the car.
Throughout the entire event, hundreds of cars passed by on the busy 7-lane highway, but – other than the original truck driver who called 911 as he passed by and then returned to the scene, and the hotel employee who tossed down the fire extinguisher – not a single person stopped to help.
The 23-year old victim who was saved by Hubbard sustained broken cheekbones, several missing teeth and deep cuts around his knee. The 20-year old driver was pronounced dead at the scene.
The California Highway Patrol was so impressed with Hubbard’s heroism that it presented him with a Certificate of Commendation on March 8, 2010. He also received an award from the L.A. County Supervisor as well as a Gold “R” certificate from Ruan.
Hubbard is very glad things turned out as they did. “I could have just kept on going when I saw the fire, but I didn’t,” he said. “One family had to deal with burying their son that day. I’m glad at least a second family didn’t have to.”
For his kindness, Hubbard has received a Highway Angel lapel pin, certificate, and patch. Ruan also received a certificate acknowledging that one of its drivers is a Highway Angel.
Since the program’s inception in August 1997, hundreds of drivers have been recognized as Highway Angels for the exemplary kindness, courtesy, and courage they have displayed while on the job.