I would describe being a hero as “An ordinary person reacting or responding to an emergency for the greater good of another without consideration for his or her personal safety.” And that is why heroes rarely accept being called heroes.
It was an ordinary day of trucking on Wednesday May 23rd when my truck “Showtime” – driven by my cousin and full time co-driver Dewayne Bryant pulled into the Pilot truck stop in Youngstown Ohio.
Pulling into one of the bays farthest from the building I made my exit in a controlled urgent rush to get to the bathroom – thanking Dewayne for picking a bay so far from the building. Upon my exit from Pilot, I broke into a bit of an “Airborne shuffle” in front of the noses of fueling diesel beasts.
About halfway to the truck, I saw a guy standing in my path in blue shorts and red sleeveless Tee shirt. I saw he was slick headed bald on top and sported a big Abraham Lincoln type of beard that fell to his chest. His left arm had a choke hold on a sack full of McDonald’s, along with a coke and hanging from same arm was a gym bag and held by his fingers were a quart of chocolate milk. In his right hand was a McDonald’s ice cream sundae.
As I got nearer, I saw he was looking to his left and then he looked at me then back to the island and then he started yelling “Hey! HEY! HEY! YOUR TRUCK IS ROLLING!” I looked and saw a truck rolling backwards from the fuel island. This is where an ordinary guy on an ordinary day reacted to an emergency for the greater good of another. Without a second thought to my personal safety I tore off my shirt revealing my Superman persona and leaped into action.
I had no idea that at age 60 I could move so fast. The truck was now on the downgrade and moving like a speeding train. In an instant as I ran to catch it I saw a white box truck entering the fuel island area behind the semis. There was nothing I could do to warn the driver. The box truck barley cleared the runaway truck as I grabbed the door handle of the speeding truck. I flung the door open and adrenaline pumping I pulled myself into the unfamiliar truck and slammed the brake pedal hard. My heart was pounding as the truck lurched backwards then forward from the sudden stop.
I set the brakes and then realized I couldn’t find the door handle, as I looked for release I saw a guy calmly walking up to the door. I just then found the handle and opened the door to his confused questioning eyes that seem to ask, “What are you doing in my truck?” I swung outta his cab and said, “Dude – next time – you should set your brakes!” I walked back up to the guy who had alerted me to the impending disaster and he said “DUDE! I can’t believe you caught that truck!” I replied, “Me neither! Not bad for a 60 year old guy right?”
By then a small crowd had gathered and everyone was in disbelief that I had caught the truck. I admit I basked in the glow for just a moment. Then the manager from Pilot appeared asking if everyone was ok, yes was the reply and then a guy walked up to me and the other good citizen asking us if he could post the video on CDLIFE.com. Video – What video? I never got his name but he has a FB page “CDL Y B1 En Convoy”.
We posed for a quick photo and he took my number so I could find the video. It took awhile to come down off the adrenaline and once I did I reviewed the video. I couldn’t believe he was fast enough to have captured what he did. If you look closely at the very beginning of the video at the passenger side rear of the trailer you will see how the white box truck BARLEY cleared the trailer before I stopped the truck. Then if you look behind the trailer after I stopped it – you will see a white parked semi truck that would have completely been totaled had I not stopped runaway truck. Only about 2 seconds and the timing of the universe that put me there at that exact moment separated disaster from what turned out to be a non incident. And I declined the “Hero” status that was being laid upon me because, “I was just an ordinary guy responding to an emergency for the greater good of another.” The driver who failed to set his parking brake did catch up to me before I got to my truck. He thanked me and asked if there were anything he could do. I shook his hand and told him “No, I was just looking out for another trucker brother and no worries it was all good.”
In conclusion, I always leave some “Food for thought” or moral to the story so here it is…
I was in Colton, California where I witnessed this one personally. A driver in training and his trainer backed into a door at the “Old Colton” facility. The trainee had not set his tractor brake. He then disconnected the trailer and got back in but before he could react the tractor rolled forward and over a curb and into a chain link fence. The tractor was high centered on the fuel tanks on the curb. Hazmat and tow team had to be called.
It takes a second to check to make sure your parking brake is set.
MAKE SURE YOUR PARKING BRAKE IS SET!
Written by: Karl Wiggins (Prime Driver since 2006)