Colorado truck driver
named Highway Hero
Mar 27, 2009 2:36 PM
A Colorado truck driver has received the 26th Goodyear North American Highway Hero Award in recognition of his effort in saving the lives of two young girls involved in a highway accident.
Jorge Orozco Sanchez, an owner-operator, was hauling grain October 28, 2008, on Highway 392 north of Greeley CO, when an SUV suddenly crossed the center line and collided with Orozco's tractor-trailer rig.
As the vehicles stopped moving, a shaken Orozco Sanchez quickly jumped from his cab and ran to the other vehicle. With flames already beginning to surround the vehicles, he saw two girls, strapped into their car seats and crying, and a woman in the front who was not moving. Working with a passer-by who used a fire extinguisher to fight back the flames, Orozco Sanchez rescued the two girls.
One of the youngsters was extracted quickly, but the fire was growing in intensity and smoke was so thick he had trouble seeing into the vehicle. He was finally able to remove the other girl before the truck's fuel tanks ruptured and burst into flame. The 27-year-old mother died in the crash. Orozco Sanchez sustained burns on his arms from the rescue and was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. The fire reduced the cab and the SUV to rubble and damaged the side of a nearby building. Joseph Copeland, vice president, Goodyear Commercial Tire Systems, said,
"Jorge's quick thinking and bravery will be reflected in the lives of these two girls, just one and four years old, in years to come," said Joseph Copeland, Goodyear Commercial Tire Systems vice-president. "It is our hope that their friends and family, including the girls' father, Colin Nicklas, may find comfort in the saving of these two young lives."
For his efforts, Sanchez was honored at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville KY and presented a $10,000 US Savings Bond, a plaque, and a specially designed ring.
Founded in 1983, the Goodyear North America Highway Hero program recognizes professional truck drivers and the often unnoticed, life-saving rescues and roadside assistance they provide as their jobs take them across North America.
Highway Hero finalists include Roy Hackett of Nashville TN, Team Drivers Nikolay Zashev and Tihomir Tanev of the Chicago IL area, and Willie Wilson of Santa Clara CA.
For more on Goodyear's Highway Hero program and to nominate a truck driver for next year's award, see the Goodyear Web site at goodyear.com.
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