Highway Angel rescues child from sinking car

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The Truckload Carriers Association recently recognized C.R. England driver Richard Filiczkowski of Zion, Ill., as a Highway Angel for rescuing an 8-year-old girl from a sinking car.

Filiczkowski’s wife and co-driver, Janet, was at the wheel eastbound on Interstate 90 near Plankinton, S.D., when she saw a 2005 PT Cruiser cross the median, drive across two lanes and off the road, then through a field and into a pond. She woke her husband and safely brought their truck to a stop – but even before the truck stopped, Richard Filiczkowski had jumped out and started running toward the quickly sinking car, nearly a quarter-mile away.

The PT Cruiser’s driver was unresponsive, but a girl in the rear seat was screaming for help. Filiczkowski jumped into the water and told the girl to unlock all the doors. When she did, he was able to pull her from the car through the rear hatch and swim with her to shore. He then made multiple attempts to pull young Abby’s father from behind the wheel of the submerged car, but Jeff Bern – a physician from Worthington, Minn. – nevertheless died in the accident.

Both Abby and her rescuer, who had inhaled water, were treated at a clinic. “I’m thankful for his courage and his generosity to my family,” said Marty Bern, Abby’s mother and Jeff Bern’s widow.

Filiczkowski received a Highway Angel lapel pin, certificate and patch, and C.R. England received a certificate acknowledging a Highway Angel in its ranks. To nominate a driver as a Highway Angel, visit www.truckload.org/highwayangels/nominate.asp or call 703-838-1950.