Last October, truck driver Ivan Vasovic was driving in Los Angeles when he witnessed a double tanker truck hit the a concrete divider on the highway’s overpass. The fully-loaded tanker truck slammed into the wall and then into a guard rail. The collision ripped the tanks open, and diesel was spilling out. The tanker came to rest with the first tanker hanging over the side of the overpass.
Moments after the crash, the tanker ignited into flames. The tanker truck driver was stuck inside of the burning rig.
The tanker truck driver was engulfed in flames, however, he managed to kick out a window and escape the blazing truck. The driver fell to the group, breaking his arm and leg.
Flames and smoke were billowing from the truck.
Vasovic and another witness attempted to pull the injured driver to safety, however, the intense heat only allowed them to drag the injured driver a few yards at a time. Vasovic ran back to his truck and poured water on himself, then ran back to the driver and was able to drag the driver another 20 yards from the blazing truck.
Minutes later, the blazing rig fell to the ground below.
For his efforts, Vasovic has been awarded the 31st annual Goodyear North America Highway Hero Award during the Mid-America Trucking Show.
“Ivan’s quick thinking and brave actions saved a fellow truck driver from a life-threatening situation,” said Gary Medalis, marketing director, Goodyear Commercial Tire Systems. “He literally put himself in harm’s way to save another person’s life. Ivan’s decision to interject himself into this deadly scenario is a powerful example of the selflessness exhibited by professional truck drivers. He has earned the right to be called a Highway Hero.”
Vasovic recived a $5,000 prize, a Highway Hero ring and other prizes.
Three other truck drivers were also honored for their heroic highway efforts:
Brian Dunn, a driver from Knoxville, Tenn. Dunn was driving down a highway in Oklahoma when he saw a car crash through a guard rail and land on its roof in the middle of the road. He ran to the car as its engine caught fire. Running back to his truck to grab his fire extinguisher, Dunn heard a child crying. He spotted a two-year-old boy who was trapped in the back seat of the burning car. Braving the flames, Dunn yanked on the car’s door until it gave way, allowing him to rescue the child, whom he then handed to bystanders. Dunn ran back to his car for his fire extinguisher while other bystanders tried to rescue the boy’s mother, who had driven the car. They later learned that she died as a result of the crash.
Tim Horton, a driver from Sheridan, Ark. Horton was driving outside Tuscaloosa, Ala., when a small car passed his truck, lost control and drove into a 35-foot-deep ravine, landing upside down in a creek bed. The car’s driver, a teenager, was trapped inside the car and had suffered a large cut on his head. Horton flagged down the driver of another vehicle, who happened to be a volunteer firefighter. The two men made their way down the steep, brush-covered embankment. They found the teenager alive, but bleeding heavily. Horton cut the teenager’s seat belt and pulled him from the car. After Horton and the volunteer firefighter stabilized the teenager’s condition, Horton called for additional help. It took 10 men using a 50-foot fire ladder to transport the teenager to a waiting ambulance.
Scott Rosenberg, a driver from Isanti, Minn. Rosenberg had just completed a delivery in Stillwater, Minn., when he spotted a pickup truck that was upside down in a pond with steam rising from it. At the time, Rosenberg was driving a trailer with a boom crane used for loading heavy concrete products. Acting quickly, he positioned his crane in place, hoping to flip the pickup over and back onto its wheels. In the meantime, two other men had reached the pickup and were trying to pry its doors open, to no avail. Using his crane, Rosenberg turned the pickup right-side up. Its driver, a college student who had fallen asleep at the wheel, was still alive. Police then arrived and pulled him from the vehicle.
“Each of our Highway Hero Award finalists is a hero in his own right,” said Medalis. “We are honored to recognize these selfless individuals for their acts of courage and compassion. They truly are a credit to their profession.”