Quick thinking saves suicidal woman
The Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) is honoring professional truck driver Ronnie Hartweck as a Highway Angel for his help at the scene of an attempted suicide.
On June 8, 2009, a woman jumped from an Interstate 57 overpass just north of Mattoon, IL, in an apparent suicide attempt. She landed on the highway a few vehicles ahead of Hartweck.
Hartweck and the other drivers swerved to avoid hitting her. Some steered to the right; others veered to the left. Hartweck locked his brakes up and managed to pull to the shoulder of the road without hitting anyone.
“I’ve always been a quick thinker, so the first thing that came into my mind was to somehow block the oncoming traffic from hitting her,” Hartweck said. So he quickly positioned his truck diagonally across both lanes, preventing oncoming vehicles from slamming into the victim or the other motorists who had stopped to help. He then used his CB radio to let the other truckers behind him know what had happened so they could bring their trucks to a safe stop well in advance of the scene.
The woman was still alive and suffering from two broken elbows and a concussion, among other injuries. However, by the time paramedics arrived, all of the other witnesses had returned to their vehicles and left the scene. Hartweck was the only one left to provide a statement for authorities.
“I don’t want to be a hero,” Hartweck said. “The Lord put me there for a reason: to block traffic that day.”
Since its inception in August 1997, the Highway Angels program has recognized hundreds of drivers for the unusual kindness, courtesy and courage they have shown others while on the job. TCA has received letters and e-mails from people across North America nominating truck drivers for the program.