Kevin Harris of Kamloops, British Columbia — who fought off flames and defied danger so that he could provide comfort to a dying fellow driver he had met only 10 minutes earlier — is the 2005 Bridgestone-Firestone Canadian Truck Hero.
The award was presented Thursday, Nov. 17 at the Ontario Trucking Association’s annual meeting. The honor, which Bridgestone-Firestone Canada has presented since 1956, is given to a Canadian trucker demonstrating courage, quick thinking and integrity in the face of emergency.
Harris, a driver for Valley Roadways, was traveling along Highway 5A between Merritt and Kamloops in August 2005, trailing Peter Mills, a trucker with whom he had shared coffee at a truck stop only moments before. Suddenly, Mills’ truck veered out of control and rolled into a ditch, crushing the cab and pinning the driver’s arms and legs.
Harris climbed into the crushed cab and attempted to save the injured driver. While rescue efforts were futile, Harris remained at Mills’ side, putting a pillow behind his neck, wiping his face, holding his hand and trying to make him comfortable. Harris also used fire extinguishers from the two trucks to quell the diesel-fueled fires, enabling him to stay with Mills.
Harris received $3,000 from Bridgestone-Firestone Canada, along with a commemorative trophy. Bridgestone-Firestone Canada will donate a matching amount in Harris’ name to a memorial trust fund that has been set up for Mills in his hometown of Lamont, Alta.