March 20, 2002

Goodyear names finalists for North America Highway Hero Award

Akron, Ohio – Five professional truck drivers who risked their own lives to help others have been selected as finalists for the 2001 Goodyear North America Highway Hero Award, the trucking industry’s most prestigious award for heroism.

On March 22, the drivers will be introduced to the trucking industry at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Kentucky, and one of the drivers will be named the 2001 Goodyear North America Highway Hero.

The finalists are:

  • William Clark, York, Pa. — Travelling on 1-95 near Washington, D.C. in the early morning hours of Nov. 8, 2000, Clark watched another truck burst into flames, swerve severely, and overturn after it collided into a disabled vehicle. Both the car and the truck were engulfed in fire. Clark rushed from his truck to the car, but the female driver had been killed instantly. Turning his attention to the truck, Clark kicked in the rig’s cracked windshield, dislodged the driver, and pulled him away from the flames to safety. Clark is a driver for Frito Lay.

  • Bill Johnson and Bryan Effle of Norfolk, Neb. — Shortly after the two Ruan Transportation drivers left the terminal for their respective routes on April 13, 2001, they came upon an overturned car in a ditch along the side of the road. When the pair stopped to investigate, they found that a teenage boy had been ejected from the car and into a nearby ditch filled with water. Johnson and Effle gently lifted the unconscious and badly injured teenager so that his face was out of the water. Johnson continued to hold him while Effle called for help and searched the area for other possible victims. When help arrived, the two drivers helped the paramedics lift the victim out of the ditch and into the ambulance.
  • Oscar Gonzalez, Laredo, TX — The driver of a pickup truck was using his vehicle to push a disabled car along I-35 on June 30, 2001, when construction forced him from the shoulder into the right lane of traffic. As they tried to merge, the pickup truck and automobile were struck from the rear by a tractor trailer. Gonzalez, a driver for Averitt Express, saw the tractor trailer run off the road, and immediately stopped to help. A man and a 6-year-old girl were trapped in the pickup truck, and Gonzalez attempted to douse the flames and free them. The man was trapped, but Gonzalez removed the girl — who suffered third-degree burns — from danger. He then assisted the four victims from the other car, moving them away from danger. Gonzalez provided aid and comfort to the victims, especially the young girl, and remained with her until EMS arrived on the scene.
  • Larry “Scott” Travis of Albuquerque, NM — Travis, a driver for Covenant Transportation, was traveling on U.S. 270 through Sheridan, Arkansas on August 6, 2001, when he saw a car in a ditch, partially engulfed in flames. While other bystanders stood helpless, Travis approached the car with his fire extinguisher, and removed an unconscious female driver from the wreckage, suffering burns on his own body in the process. Moments after the driver had been safely removed, her car exploded in flames.

“We can all feel a little safer knowing there are courageous individuals like these men on our roadways,” said Ted Fick, Goodyear’s vice president for Commercial Tire Systems. “In the 19 years since the inception of the Goodyear Highway Hero program, we have heard about hundreds of truck drivers who placed themselves in harm’s way to save someone else, and we believe it is important
that they be recognized publicly.”

The finalists were culled from state and provincial winners throughout the United States and Canada. A panel of judges, consisting of members of the trucking and tire trade media, will select the 2001 Goodyear North America Highway Hero.

To nominate a professional truck driver for the 2002 Goodyear Highway Hero Award, please visit Goodyear’s Commercial Tire web site at

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