NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Daniel Sieczkarski of Rochester, New York, a professional driver for Melton Truck Lines Inc., of Tulsa, Oklahoma, has been named the 2016 Highway Angel of the Year by the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) and its partner EpicVue.
The Highway Angel program, now in its 20th year, recognizes professional truck drivers who have selflessly helped others while on the job. From each year’s awardees, one Highway Angel is selected as Highway Angel of the Year because he or she is thought to best embody the spirit of the program. Sieczkarski was recognized earlier this morning during TCA’s annual convention, currently under way at the Gaylord Opryland here.
During the award ceremony, Lance Platt, CEO of the Salt Lake City, Utah-based EpicVue, presented Sieczkarski with a trophy and prize, a complimentary EpicVue satellite TV package that includes a 24-inch flat screen TV, a DVR, and a one-year subscription to over 100 channels of DIRECTV programming, including premium channels such as HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, and the NFL Sunday Ticket. Then, Nashville recording artist Lindsay Lawler, the official spokesperson of the Highway Angel program, sang one of her songs, appropriately titled “Highway Angel.”
The incident that Sieczkarski was honored for took place on April 18, 2016. He was driving on I-10 near Brookshire, Texas, just outside of Houston, when he heard a weather alert about flooding in the area. He then spotted a tractor-trailer parked sideways near a bridge. Floodwater was rising around the truck, but the driver was still behind the wheel. Realizing that something was wrong, he quickly moved his truck to a safe place and ran back to check out the scene.
Another motorist had also stopped and happened to have a life vest and some tubing available. Sieczkarski and the motorist tied the tubing to the vest and floated it toward the driver to use. After 15 minutes of unsuccessfully trying to talk the driver into leaving his tractor-trailer and all his belongings behind, Sieczkarski knew he had to take matters into his own hands. Donning the life vest himself, he swam out to the stranded driver’s truck. As he opened the cab door, the other driver began to realize how quickly the water was rising and was finally convinced to leave his truck. Without a second to lose, the pair swam through the turbulent water toward dry land. They were pulled under several times, but with the help of several Good Samaritans who by then were gathered on dry land, they were pulled to land safely.
Russell Stubbs, TCA’s 2016-17 chairman, and the chairman of FFE Holdings in Lancaster, Texas, said, “I’m told that an hour after Daniel rescued the other driver, the stranded tractor-trailer was fully submerged underwater. Talk about ‘just in time delivery!’”
EpicVue’s Platt said, “Daniel put another man’s life before his own. If he had not acted so quickly, the outcome could have been very different. My company considers it a privilege to be able to recognize and honor amazing professional truck drivers like him, which is why we love sponsoring this program.”
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. Archival copies of past Highway Angel press releases can be found at www.truckload.org/newsroom.
More information about TCA’s activities, including the Highway Angel program, is available by following the association on Facebook — www.truckload.org/Facebook — and Twitter www.truckload.org/Twitter. On both social media sites, you can also learn about this year’s Annual Convention with the hashtag #2017TCA. The Highway Angel hashtag is HighwayAngel.