Ancaster, Ontario-based Frank Vieira has never been one to shy away from helping people on the road, and Thursday night at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky., he was honored as the 35th annual Goodyear Highway Hero for his willingness to stop and help those in need.
Vieira, a driver for Connell Transport out of Hamilton, Ontario, says he was “put in the right place at the right time” last year when he was driving on a different route from his normal daily routine on a detour and heard a loud crash from the other side of the two-lane country road. He says the accident was too close for him to see in his mirror immediately, so he pulled over to the shoulder and approached the scene where an SUV had run into the back of a parked roll-off truck.
“I immediately pulled over and jumped out of the truck, found clean gloves in my truck in case there was any metal shroud or anything,” Vieira says. “I put my left hand on this unfortunate person’s neck because he had been pierced by a broken steering wheel through the right side of his neck. There was a lot of blood, so I put as much pressure on that as I could, and I used my right hand to use my phone…and called 911.”
Vieira went on to say around that same time, the driver of the roll-off truck walked back to see what was going on to see if he could offer any assistance but fainted when he saw what was going on.
“When he fainted, now I have my right hand on my phone, my left hand holding onto someone, and I also notice that this fellow’s left leg was now in the oncoming traffic, so I used my right leg to pull his leg closer to me,” he adds. “It all seems like it was a half hour, but it all happened in three minutes.”
While Vieira says he did not want to have future contact with the accident victim because “I don’t want anybody to feel like they owe me anything,” he says he heard from the fire department after the crash that the driver survived the incident.
Vieira says he has no formal training in assisting trauma victims, but in his 31 years on the road, the 48-year-old driver says he has seen it all happen before.
“The only training that I would associate to this is just experience,” he says. “I’ve seen a lot, so it’s probably made it easier to jump in without having to hesitate. I gave it no thought. I immediately looked for where is this blood coming from, and I applied as much pressure as I could.”
Through his career, Vieira has hauled throughout Canada and the U.S., amassing more than 8 million miles over the years. He now drives a tanker locally around Toronto.
Vieira says he hopes his story “inspires all drivers, especially new drivers, to have more willpower to perform these extraordinary acts.”
For receiving the honor, Vieira received a $5,000 prize, a ring and a trophy from Goodyear. The two other finalists, Brian Bucenell and Ryan Moody, also received cash prizes.