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(Originally published on TTNews.com. View the original article.)
ORLANDO, Fla. — J.B. Hunt driver Andrew Waits of Tacoma, Wash., who helped save the life of an unconscious motorcyclist, was named the 38th winner of the Highway Hero Award presented by The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.
The honor was announced during American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council Annual Meeting and Transportation Technology Exhibition on Feb. 26.
Waits was on a busy four-lane highway when he witnessed a motorcyclist thrown from his vehicle. He quickly positioned his tractor-trailer to shield the unconscious rider from oncoming traffic and attended to the man using skills he learned as a volunteer firefighter until first responders could arrive.
“You never know what you’re going to see on any given day,” said Waits. “This accident happened right in front of me, and I had to think quick. I utilized my knowledge and instincts to help those in need at a very crucial time.”
Henrik Christensen, J.B. Hunt account manager, also recalled Waits’ humility as he called in to the office to apologize for being delayed. Christensen described Waits as a genuine and kind person who is always looking to help others. For him, it was an easy decision to nominate Waits for the honor, and he was especially pleased when he learned that Waits was this year’s recipient.
“It warms my heart that good things can happen to good people,” Christensen said of Waits.
While Waits accepted his award, he reflected upon his experience, noting that there are “a lot heroes on the road” and he only did what was right in that situation.
Waits said, at the moment, he thought of the words of one of his mentors that he said defines his life.
“Choose the hard right over the easy wrong,” he described, recalling that he actually made a hard right on the highway to shield oncoming traffic from the unconscious motorcyclist. “I literally chose the hard right.”
He thanked Christensen and dedicated the award to his brother, and reflected on the support of his family.
“You know you did something right when your father says he’s proud of you,” he said. “That really meant a lot to me.”
Goodyear has celebrated professional truck drivers who act courageously for the good of others on highways across the United States and Canada since 1983.
“We’re proud to honor Andrew and all of this year’s finalists in the Goodyear Highway Hero Award,” said Dave Beasley, vice president of Goodyear North America commercial. “Truck drivers keep our country moving, and it gives me comfort to know we have people like Andrew on the road, getting the job done and courageously helping out when needed.”
“Andrew prioritized the safety and well-being of others in a moment where every second is critical,” said Nick Hobbs, chief operating officer and president of Contract Services at J.B. Hunt. “His actions were selfless and courageous, and we are grateful that Goodyear is recognizing him with the 2022 Highway Hero Award.”
Waits is the first driver from J.B. Hunt to receive the accolade. In September 2022, Goodyear asked the trucking community to nominate a driver who demonstrated an extraordinary act of courage on the road. After receiving dozens of worthy submissions, finalists were identified and a panel of independent industry judges decided the winner. Waits received a $1,000 reward along with a cooler, television as well as Goodyear tires and merchandise.
The other finalists were:
Barry Perkins of Cowan Systems, Burlington, N.J.: Perkins encountered a life-threatening accident that involved numerous cars, including a vehicle that caught fire with a family trapped inside. Perkins extinguished the fire and helped the driver and her children exit the vehicle and get safely off the road.
Robert Windsor of Windsor Trucking LLC, Norman, Okla.: Windsor encountered a vehicle that was pinned underneath a semi-truck and engulfed in flames. He used his fire extinguisher to neutralize the flames before rescuing a young girl from the pinned vehicle.
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