John Christner Trucking driver named Highway Angel

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The Truckload Carriers Association recently recognized John Christner Trucking driver Jim Hoffman, of Roswell, N.M., as a Highway Angel for assisting several young adults involved in a serious car accident in subfreezing temperatures.

In the darkness of an early winter morning, Hoffman was traveling eastbound on Highway 84 near Scranton, Pa., when he caught sight of a faint blue light flashing in the middle of the road. Unable to detect what it was, Hoffman slowed down and moved to the shoulder of the road. “As I slowed down, I heard a woman scream for me to stop,” Hoffman says.

After securing his vehicle, Hoffman investigated the site and found a young woman, whose cellphone was emitting the blue light, standing in the road yelling. She said her car had rolled over, and Hoffman, wanting to get her out of the single-digit temperatures, brought her into his rig and called 911.

“When she lifted up her leg to climb into the truck, I saw it was bleeding,” Hoffman says. He found a compress to stop the bleeding and asked the woman what had happened. That’s when he learned three male friends had been in the vehicle with her. Hoffman quickly grabbed his jacket and a flashlight, instructed the woman to “just sit there,” and hurried into the cold darkness.

After crossing the tree-studded median, Hoffman heard a voice moaning in pain and headed in that direction. He soon came upon all three young men. One had been thrown from the vehicle and was lying in the snow, and the other two were roaming around disoriented and bleeding from cuts to the head. Knowing it was dangerous to move someone involved in an accident, Hoffman decided to wait for the paramedics to tend to the injured man in the snow, but he was concerned that the victim had no shoes or coat and was wearing only pants and a T-shirt.

“I knew he was cold because I was getting pretty cold, so I brought him a blanket from my truck,” Hoffman says. “Then I got one of the other guys into my truck, but the third guy was in a daze and I couldn’t get him to do anything.” While waiting for the paramedics to arrive, Hoffman spent the remainder of the time hurrying back and forth from the victims in his truck to the suffering young man in the snow. “I felt so bad for him,” Hoffman says. “He kept asking me not to leave him.”

Once on the scene, the emergency crew succeeded in getting the wandering man into the ambulance and hurriedly worked on the four victims, all of whom were in their late teens or early 20s. Shortly after the incident, one of the paramedics wrote a letter to Hoffman’s company commending him, because “his quick thinking really made a difference for the well-being of strangers.”

Hoffman, who has young adult children of his own, says, “Someday if something happens to my kids, I hope someone would stop for them.” This was not the first incident where Hoffman has assisted travelers in need, and he says “I’ll do it again, too.” A jovial man with a sense of humor about life, Hoffman joked about a state trooper interviewing him for information at the accident scene. “It’s the first time I ever invited a state trooper into my truck,” he says laughing.

Hoffman received a Highway Angel lapel pin, certificate and patch for his efforts, and his employer, John Christner Trucking, also received a certificate for acknowledging a Highway Angel in their midst.

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,” says Nancy O’Liddy, TCA’s director of public affairs and marketing. “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 creates a greater public awareness and appreciation for the many outstanding drivers in this industry.”

To nominate a driver online, go to www.truckload.org/highwayangels/nominate.asp.