DRIVER EARNS HIGHWAY ANGEL WINGS FOR HELPING SEVERELY INJURED BOY FOLLOWING FIERY HEAD-ON COLLISION
The Truckload Carriers Association has named Ty Mauzerolle, from Springfield, Missouri, a Highway Angel for stopping at the scene of a fatal two-car accident and working to rescue a nine-year-old boy.
Mauzerolle and his student driver, Leonel Sanchez, were on I-40 near Holbrook, Arizona on their way to Henderson, Nevada in early June 2020. “It was around 9 p.m.,” shared Mauzerolle, “it was really dark, there’s nothing out there, just desert.” Then he saw something glowing orange up ahead on the right. Mauzerolle moved to the left lane. “It was a car on fire,” he recalled. “As we got closer, there was another car in the left lane sitting sideways.” Mauzerolle had to initiate a hard stop at 65 mph. He then grabbed a fire extinguisher and ran to the burning vehicle as Sanchez called 911. Mauzerolle could hear a child screaming. “It was a boy, maybe 9 or 10 years old,” he said. Other cars and trucks stopped and drivers rushed over with their extinguishers. “We were able to get most of the flames out,” he shared.
The boy’s father was deceased, as was the elderly driver in the other vehicle. “I knew we had to get this kid out of the car,” Mauzerolle shared with TCA, “but it was really mangled, and the doors weren’t opening.” Sanchez helped him get tools out of the truck to pry the doors open and then grabbed a blanket. “I was afraid of the flames flaring back up,” said Mauzerolle. “We didn’t know his (the boy’s) injuries, but his leg was stuck.” He worked with two other drivers on the scene to free him. He then carried the boy away from the vehicle. “I was on the ground with this kid in my arms,” he said. “A trooper arrived and said he would be happy to take over, but I didn’t want to let him go until he was put in an ambulance.” Both of the boy’s arms were broken and likely both legs, and at least one rib. He hadn’t been wearing a seat belt. “They tried to give him pain medication,” recalled Mauzerolle, “but he was terrified of getting a shot. He was screaming. I asked him if he liked video games. I told him I had a Nintendo Switch in the truck and that if he took the shot then he could have the game,” he said. “This was the worst day in that kid’s life. I wanted to do anything to take his mind off what just happened.” The boy was taken by Life Flight to a children’s hospital in Phoenix.
Mauzerolle said he and Sanchez made a couple of unscheduled stops that day. “It ended up putting us in the right place at the right time,” he shared. “We would have crossed Arizona a lot earlier and missed the accident. That’s just how the chain of events worked.” He later learned that the boy and his father were just seven miles from home that night. The other driver, an elderly man, was driving in the wrong direction. “This wasn’t reckless driving,” he said. “This was an accident. Anything can happen. It makes you appreciate what you have. The next day I called all my family.”
The Truckload Carriers Association and its Highway Angel program has also recognized William and Becky Gregory, owner-operators who drive for Titan Transfer, Inc. They were also on I-40 that night and stopped at the scene to help.
Editor’s Note: Mauzerolle says Sanchez was in his final stage of Prime’s student driver program. “He is still with me, he was such a good student I hired him to work with me,” he said. “He was very helpful at the accident scene. I am very grateful he was with me that night.”
TCA has presented Mauzerolle with a certificate, patch, lapel pin, and truck decals. His employer, Prime Inc., 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.