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Driver gets “choked up” every time he thinks about the human trafficking victim he helped save


Trucker saves human trafficking victim from further abuse by calling police after passing her wandering half-naked on a roadway. 

Truck driver Joe Aguayo has been honored by Truckers Against Trafficking after helping to save a woman in Idaho from further abuse last year. 

Aguayo says that he was driving his usual route in northern Idaho when he passed a woman wandering on the side of the road. Aguayo says he noticed her head was shaved, and that she was only wrapped in a towel. 

“I came around the corner, and she was standing on the fog line, and everything about me was like something’s wrong,” Aguayo said to KTVB 7 News. “The voice in your head was like, hey you need to get help.”

Aguayo says he didn’t have cell phone service at the time, and couldn’t turn around, but knew he had to do something. 

“So, I floored it to the nearest call box, and got the Idaho State Police out there as soon as they could,” he said. 

“At that time, I didn’t even know she was a trafficking victim,” Aguayo said. “They told me that she had a bunch of wounds and stuff and she was completely nude. She was drugged up and they shaved her head. Every time I’ve had to talk about it, I get choked up because I can’t imagine what it would be like to go through what she went through, and the horror that she endured. That people would treat people like that. Last I heard she was safe and they got her counseling.” 

“Truckers Against Trafficking honors drivers like Aguayo with the Harriet Tubman Award, so we submitted his name to TAT to become a nominee,” said Ben Espey, a supervisor at Winco, where Aguayo works. 

“[When Aguayo won] we ended up flying to Indianapolis for the award ceremony,” Aguayo said. “The Harriet Tubman Award is for saving people’s lives and being able to rescue them, just like she did. It was really incredible to be there.” 

“We were really proud of him, he deserved to win the award.”

“I drive the same route still, and the thing that gets me is how many people have we not found?” Aguayo said. 

“I was told by the officer that this was the second victim that was found in this area. So, when I’m on that route I’m always on constant alert of what is around me. You know we are eyes on the road, we see everything. It was like the grace of God was telling me to go get help. Pay attention to your gut feeling, and if you see something say something.”


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