Bill Poulos, a professional truck driver for FedEx Freight of Portland, Ore., has been named a Truckload Carriers Association Highway Angel for looking after the best interests of a small child caught in a bad situation.
On Dec. 31, as Poulos drove along Interstate 84 from Portland to Pendleton, he came upon an accident that had occurred shortly before he arrived. He didn’t know it at the time, but a man allegedly had raped and kidnapped the 25-year old woman he lived with. He also had kidnapped her 23-month old child. Apparently, when the woman escaped from the vehicle, the man attempted to run her over. Driving way too fast, he reached a bend in the road, lost control, slammed into a rock wall and rolled several times. His Jeep then was hit by another vehicle coming around the bend, and the man was ejected onto the pavement.
By the time Poulos came across the scene, other motorists already had stopped and covered the injured driver with a blanket because the temperature was in the teens. Without knowing the details about what had happened, Poulos looked around and saw the Jeep nearby, extensively damaged. He asked the other bystanders if there was anyone inside the mangled vehicle, but no one seemed to know. He decided to investigate and was shocked to find a two-year old girl strapped to her car seat, not crying, but calmly staring at him.
Because of the way the car was damaged, it was not a simple matter to remove the child. Poulos tried pulling her out through one door, then the other. When the battery of the vehicle started smoking, Poulos worried that a fire could erupt. He reached through the broken rear window and cut the seatbelt off the child from one side. Then he crawled on top of the wreckage and pulled the little girl through the sunroof to safety. Because it was so cold, he gave the toddler to another kind person who had stopped to help: a female truck driver who kept the toddler warm in her cab until emergency responders arrived.
The child was transported to an area hospital, where she was treated.
The man later was charged with two counts of rape, kidnapping in the first and second degree, driving under the influence of intoxicants and several other charges.