The Truckload Carriers Association announced that Kenny Cass of FedEx Freight’s operation based in Portland, Ore., has been named a Highway Angel for helping at the scene of an accident. On March 22 at about 8:10 p.m., Cass was driving along Martin Luther King Blvd. in Portland when he witnessed a pickup truck rear-end a 53-foot tractor-trailer.
The pick-up was wedged up to its windshield under the truck. Cass immediately called 911, turned on his 4-ways and placed his vehicle 50 yards behind the scene to warn oncoming traffic. He approached the pickup and found the bloody and disoriented driver still alive, wearing his seatbelt and – unbelievably – talking on his cell phone. Cass told him to remain still and wait for help to arrive.
Cass then checked on the driver of the big rig and found her to be okay, but also somewhat disoriented. Since Cass is a driver development instructor, he knew that her truck would be equipped with reflective triangles. Even though she didn’t seem to understand what he was talking about, he was able to locate the triangles and put them together.
Holding them in front of his chest to reflect his own body so no one would hit him, he placed the triangles an appropriate distance from the wreck. As he returned to the pickup truck, he saw that smoke now was billowing from beneath it. Fearing a possible fire, he smashed the window and pulled the driver out, still on the phone. He got the man to sit in a safe place nearby.
Cass rushed back to the big rig driver, got her out of her vehicle and obtained her fire extinguisher. Meanwhile, the pickup driver had left the scene; apparently he was still in shock and had begun running toward oncoming traffic. Cass finally got him to safety and had started applying bandages to the bleeding when help arrived. The entire incident occurred during a 20-minute period before emergency responders showed up, and throughout the ordeal, no other motorists stopped to help Cass.
A fire did not erupt, and paramedics were able to take care of the injured victims. The female truck driver did not need hospitalization and after some time regained her composure. Cass helped her by checking out her truck and determining that her vehicle was drivable to her destination, which was only a few miles away.
“I’m willing to help anyone and everyone when I can,” said Cass, who has spent 24 years in the U.S. Coast Guard and is used to keeping calm and acting quickly in stressful situations. “I’m a people person, which is why I enjoy training new drivers and helping them accomplish whatever they set out to do. When one of my students gets a CDL, it makes me feel good. I know that I did my job properly.”
For his efforts that day, Cass has received a Highway Angel lapel pin, certificate and patch. FedEx Freight also received a certificate acknowledging that one of its drivers is a Highway Angel. In addition, Cass has been approved for a FedEx 2012 Humanitarian Award, which will be presented to him later this year.