The Truckload Carriers Association recently recognized Dupre’ Transport driver Darien Smith of West Monroe, La., as a Highway Angel for his bravery in keeping flames off of a woman pinned inside a burning vehicle.
Smith was traveling down Interstate 20 in Louisiana when he noticed a vehicle on the side of the road. Initially, he continued on his way because he saw that another motorist had stopped to help, but “something just told me, you’ve got to turn around,” he said.
It turned out that the vehicle belonged to Lateona Boyce, a college student at Grambling State University, who had been driving back to school after visiting family in Chicago. According to her mother, she apparently fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into some trees, causing her truck to catch on fire. Another good samaritan was doing his best to help, but his small fire extinguisher wasn’t working. Smith ran to get his own fire extinguisher out of his truck.
First, Smith tried freeing Boyce from the vehicle, but she was too tightly pinned inside. Recognizing that professional rescue equipment was needed to extract Boyce from the burning truck, Smith focused on using the fire extinguisher to keep flames off the victim. He did this for about 20 minutes until help arrived.
Boyce was admitted to Glenwood Regional Medical Hospital and underwent surgery for a broken hip and lacerated thumb, among other things. However, because of Smith and his fire extinguisher, she was not burned and would eventually recover.
“I just did what any truck driver would have done,” said Smith. “If I see an accident on the highway, I’m stopping.”
Smith, who has been driving for more than 11 years and has more than 1 million accident-free miles, received a Highway Angel lapel pin, certificate and patch for his efforts. Dupre’ Transport of Lafayette, La., also received a certificate acknowledging that one of its drivers is a Highway Angel.
Since its inception in August 1997, the Highway Angels 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 North America nominating truck drivers for the program.