Goodyear Highway Hero finalists risk their lives to save lives of others

March 10, 2010
For the 2009 award, the finalists are George Lantzy of Turtle Creek PA, Stephen Page of Gloucester MA, Jesse Lee Seal of Alma AR, and Junichi Shimizu of Gladstone OR

As finalists for the 27th annual Goodyear North America Highway Hero Award, a Pennsylvania truck driver used his rig as a “roadblock” to stop an out-of-control car; an Arkansas truck driver extinguished a fire and rescued a trapped fellow trucker whose legs were burning after a crash; a Massachusetts truck driver noticed a burning vehicle more than a quarter-mile off the highway on which he was driving, and made an effort to save the unconscious driver; and an Oregon driver who had his own rig struck in a multi-vehicle accident was able to pull one trapped driver from a burning car and contribute to the rescue of two others from another vehicle.

For the 2009 award, the finalists are George Lantzy of Turtle Creek PA, Stephen Page of Gloucester MA, Jesse Lee Seal of Alma AR, and Junichi Shimizu of Gladstone OR.

•Lantzy, a driver for Fubar Trucking, was driving his tractor-trailer March 12, 2009, on Route 22 outside of Weirton WV, when he noticed a car along the highway’s shoulder that was slowly drifting into traffic. As he drove closer, he saw an elderly woman slumped over the steering wheel and realized something was drastically wrong. The car was headed toward a potential accident on the busy highway, so Lantzy made a snap decision to get involved. He maneuvered his rig alongside the car, then drove in front to allow the car to contact the rear of his trailer, thus creating an impromptu roadblock and easing the woman’s car away from danger. Once he was able to force the out-of-control car to a standstill, police and paramedics arrived. The driver, who had suffered a heart attack, was transported to a nearby hospital where she made a full recovery after surgery.

•Page, a driver for Pit Bull Trucking, was driving July 14, 2009, along Interstate 80 near Clearfield PA when he spotted a fire in the woods alongside the roadway. He and another driver ran into the woods to find the burning wreckage of a double-unit rig that had gone nearly 1,500 feet off the highway. Upon reaching the driver of the truck, he first thought the driver had died, but then realized he had lost consciousness. The cab was getting hotter by the second, and Page and the other driver struggled to remove the victim. Finally, with the help of two more truckers who had stopped, the injured driver was removed before the tractor and trailer were destroyed by fire. Page stayed with the injured driver, talking with him as he drifted in and out of consciousness. With severe burns, the man was eventually flown to a hospital. He has a long road to recovery, but is alive, thanks to Page and others.

•Seal, a driver for PDP Unlimited, was driving his 18-wheeler southbound on Interstate 530 near Little Rock AR in the early morning of October 7, 2009, when another truck ahead of him abruptly swerved left, went across the median and the northbound lanes, eventually coming to rest on an opposite embankment. As this happened, the truck lost a fuel tank, which caught fire. Seal quickly stopped his truck, grabbed his fire extinguisher, and ran across the lanes to provide assistance. As he passed by, he extinguished the burning fuel tank, then hurried to the disabled truck. Once there, he was able to open the hot door, put out the fire that was burning the driver’s legs, and cut the seat belt to remove the injured driver.

•Shimizu, a driver for Chipman Relocations, was traveling westbound February 20, 2009, on Highway 12 near Fairfield CA when he saw a vehicle cross the centerline of the road and strike an automobile in front of his truck. The auto spun into the ditch, and the other vehicle then hit his tractor twice before bursting into flames. Upon coming to a stop, Shimizu called for assistance and then headed to the vehicle that was in flames. Unable to open the driver’s side door due to the damage, he told the driver to protect his face and he punched out the glass in order to pull the driver free of the car. Gaining help from another motorist, he was able to free the driver’s foot, which was wedged under the dashboard, then carry the driver to safety. Running to the other car, he quickly assessed that the driver was deceased, but there were two injured passengers inside. The passengers were removed, and Shimizu retrieved his fire extinguisher to keep the blaze under control until the local fire department arrived. The three rescued individuals had extensive injuries, but all survived.

Journalists from the trucking industry are voting on the finalists, who will be featured March 25 at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville KY. One driver will be named the 2009 Goodyear North America Highway Hero at the Truck Writers of North America Annual Banquet and receive a $10,000 US Savings Bond, a plaque, and a specially designed ring; the other finalists will receive a $5,000 US Savings Bond and plaque.

Go to to learn more about the program.