TCA salutes Highway Angel John Grulke

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The Truckload Carriers Association recently recognized John Grulke, of Loveland, Colo., as a Highway Angel for his selfless actions that saved lives and businesses threatened by an electrical fire.

Grulke, a driver for United Parcel Service, was completing a delivery in an office building when he noticed smoke emerging overhead from the door of an adjacent business. Just five minutes prior he had delivered a package to that business, Colorado Door Control, and he knew the owners, Mark and Julie Nordstrom, were somewhere inside the office.

“I peeked my head in the door and saw one of the exhaust fans was on fire,” said Grulke, who saw flames rising to the ceiling. Grulke, wasting no time, ran down the hallway yelling, “Fire! Where’s your fire extinguisher?”

Julie Nordstrom quickly appeared with fire extinguisher in hand, jumped on a desk and, with Grulke’s assistance, put out the flames while her husband Mark called 911. By the time the fire trucks arrived, all visible signs of the fire had been extinguished, and a potential disaster had been averted. People in the building “didn’t have a clue,” Grulke said. “They probably wouldn’t have known until it was too late.”

Because the building houses several businesses — including a dentist office, pharmacy and other offices connected to a main, wooden structure — the fire could have escalated rapidly. But Grulke’s quick thinking and actions kept structural damage to a minimum and ensured everyone was evacuated safely. Mark Nordstrom, of Colorado Door Control, was especially appreciative of Grulke’s efforts. “If it wasn’t for John, I don’t know what would have happened that day,” he said. “It could have been a lot worse.”

“I figured I’d better let someone know,” Grulke explained. “I didn’t think about any danger.” Grulke received a Highway Angel lapel pin, certificate and patch for his efforts, and his employer, UPS Loveland Center, also received a certificate for acknowledging a Highway Angel in their midst. Grulke has been driving for UPS since 1989.

Since its inception in August 1997, the Highway Angel program has recognized hundreds of drivers for the unusual kindness, courtesy and courage they have shown others while on the job. TCA has received letters and e-mails from people across the country nominating truck drivers for the program.

“We continue to be amazed by the number of professional truckers who go out of their way to help a stranger and many times put their lives at risk as well,” said Nancy O’Liddy, director of public relations and marketing for TCA. “TCA is proud and delighted to offer the kind of program that gives these drivers the recognition and support they deserve while at the same time creating a greater public awareness and appreciation for the many outstanding drivers in this industry.”