Driver risks life to pull victim to safety
The Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) recognized truck driver Leonard T. “Lenny” Roach of Villa Park, IL as a Highway Angel for pulling a motorist out of a car filling with water, despite the risks to his own life.
The incident took place just after 5 a.m. on Feb. 19, 2008. Roach was driving his regular truck route along I-94 near South Bend, IN, being especially careful because the wind chill factor was minus-20 that day and icy road conditions were causing numerous accidents. Suddenly, he saw the car in front of him hit a patch of black ice. The car veered off the roadway and down an embankment and rolled several times before it landed upside down in a water-filled ditch.
The driver, Ernesto R. Soto, 49, was not injured in the crash. However, his car quickly filled with water, and he was hanging upside down from his seat belt. Soto managed to undo the belt and crawl into the back seat, where he temporarily found a pocket of air to breathe.
Meanwhile, Roach stopped his truck and ran down the embankment. He attempted to open one of the car’s doors, but could not, so he went around to the other side and forced the door open. With freezing cold water already up to his shoulders, Roach extracted the driver, carried him back up the hill and put him into his warm cab, where they waited for almost two hours before emergency rescue personnel could arrive from tending to other accidents.
A driver for Unisource of Addison, IL, Roach received a Highway Angel lapel pin, certificate and patch for his efforts. Unisource also received a certificate acknowledging that one of its drivers is a Highway Angel.