Trucker rescues 4 victims of early-morning accident

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John Christner Trucking, a refrigerated fleet based in Sapulpa, Okla., is proud of one of its drivers, the first to respond to an early-morning highway accident in January.

On Jan. 26, Jim Hoffman, eastbound on Interstate 84 near Scranton, Pa., was flagged down by a young woman standing 200 feet in front of him. The woman had been in an accident and had badly injured her leg. Hoffman helped the woman into his truck, applied pressure to her bleeding leg and called 911.

As they waited for the paramedics, the woman told Hoffman three other victims were involved. Hoffman grabbed his flashlight and began to search, despite an outside temperature of about 2 degrees. He found the three young men and the vehicle several hundred feet off the road near the westbound lanes.

One of the men had been thrown from the vehicle and believed that his legs were broken. Hoffman used his favorite blanket, purchased in Saudi Arabia while he was in the military, to cover up the man and make him as comfortable as possible. He took a second man back to his truck and tended a third at the scene. Hoffman ran back and forth from his truck to the accident scene, trying to make sure that everyone was OK until the paramedics arrived.

Meanwhile, cars were passing, but no one stopped to help. One driver stopped to watch what was going on.

When the emergency crews arrived, Hoffman switched from emergency aide to truck driver and sent a brief message to John Christner Trucking that he was going to be late delivering his freight.

Later that morning, Jamie Wallace, a paramedic with Jefferson Township Ambulance, sent an e-mail to John Christner Trucking, saying that Hoffman’s “quick thinking really made a difference.” The victims had wanted to express their thanks, Wallace said, but could identify Hoffman only by the number on his trailer as he drove away.

This was not the first time Hoffman has been the first responder to an accident. He recalls helping wreck victims on three other occasions.

Responding to this latest accident required no thought, he said. Noting that the victims all were in their late teens and early 20s, Hoffman said, “Someday, if something happens to my kids, I hope someone would stop for them.”