The Truckload Carriers Association announced that John Crozman, an independent contractor leased to Long Haul Trucking of Albertville, Minn., has been named its latest Highway Angel. On Feb. 3, 2011, a blizzard gripped the Midwest, creating a complete whiteout. The dense fog and blowing snow brought nearly all traffic along Interstate 29 near Summit, S.D., to a standstill.
At about 1 a.m., Crozman, who had been trying to get to the closest truck stop, was forced to pull off at Exit 213 to wait out the storm. He saw a candle flickering in a nearby van and decided to brave the -60 wind chill factor to investigate. Donning his snowmobile suit, he trudged through the snow to find Thomas and Mary Lynne Fischer nearly hypothermic and struggling to stay warm.
The Fischers, 59-year old retired educators, had been returning home to Canada after a bicycling vacation in Arizona. Armed with a sleeping bag, warm clothes, matches and candles stashed in the back of their van, they thought they were prepared for any weather problems that might arise. When the sudden intense blizzard came out of nowhere, they had pulled over, isolated from other vehicles that had stopped a mile ahead of them and a half mile behind them.
For four hours they suffered as 50-mile-per-hour wind gusts rocked their van, gas nearly emptied from their tank, and vents let in more snow and cold than heat. “When we opened our door to him, we were shivering uncontrollably and terribly frightened,” wrote the Fischers in a grateful letter to Long Haul Trucking. “He quite literally saved our lives.”
Crozman brought the Fischers into his warm truck and eventually drove them all to the truckstop. He made sure that the couple got hot coffee and food, and then allowed the couple to sleep in his truck’s bunk that night. The next day, he ensured that their vehicle was rescued prior to continuing on his route. “We have always had the utmost respect for those individuals involved in the trucking industry, and now we owe our lives to one of them,” the Fischers wrote. “John is a fine man – he is our hero, and we will never forget what he did for us on that frigid night.”