TCA names Epes driver Highway Angel of the Year

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The Truckload Carriers Association has selected Marcus Beam, a professional truck driver for Epes Transport System of Greensboro, N.C., as Highway Angel of the Year. Beam will be recognized by TCA and Internet Truckstop, the Highway Angel program’s sponsor, at the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (formerly known as the Humanitarian Bowl) on Saturday, Dec. 17, 2011, at 3:30 p.m. MST at Bronco Stadium in Boise, Idaho.

In the early evening of Aug. 8, Beam was driving on Interstate 40 near Benson, N.C., on his way to Henderson, N.C., to drop off a load when he saw a speeding car strike a vehicle, causing it to flip and careen down an embankment into the woods. He pulled over and approached the accident scene. There were other motorists present, but they were reluctant to help because the car’s engine was revving, and it seemed like the car might catch on fire.

It was dark in the woods, and Beam could not see very well. He finally located the car and saw that the driver was trapped by her seatbelt and hanging halfway out of the window. She was shouting, “My babies! My babies!” Beam pulled her out and immediately turned the engine off. He then turned his attention to the back seat, where a 6-month old infant and a toddler were dangling upside down from their car seats. The infant appeared to be choking against the car seat’s straps.

But accessing the children was difficult because the roof was crushed and the opening between the front and back seats was only about 12 inches. Beam solved the problem by lying on his back and carefully maneuvering backward until he could free the children. At some point later, Beam realized that he was covered in broken glass, but he was not injured during the rescue. “All I could think was I had to get those babies out of the car,” he told TCA. “I didn’t even consider the possible danger to myself.”

Beam will be flown to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, accompanied by Kevin Rickansrud, Epes vice president of operations, and JT Toler, director of dedicated operations. After his story is told, he will receive a trophy in front of the 34,000-person audience. The event is certain to attract massive publicity for the Highway Angel program, furthering its goal of educating the general public about the good deeds that professional truck drivers do every day in the course of their jobs.

“The management team at Epes Transport System is very proud of Marcus on being recognized as Highway Angel of the Year,” says Britt Colley, president and chief operating officer. “Marcus does a great job every day and fortunately was able to help out a motorist and her children in a great time of need. We are very fortunate to have a great team of professional drivers at Epes Transport. Our driver force is definitely our number-one asset. Congratulations to Marcus.”

Gary Salisbury, TCA chairman and president and chief executive officer of Fikes Truck Line Inc. of Hope, Ark., says “it will be an honor” to present Beam with the Highway Angel of the Year award next month. “I am always impressed when I hear stories like Beam’s – what a Good Samaritan,” Salisbury says. “I’m even more astounded that people stood around and watched him take action.”