The Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) has named Jose Nuñez, a truck driver from Homosassa, Florida, a “Highway Angel”.
The TCA says its Highway Angel award is about recognizing talented and thoughtful drivers for their “good deeds”, which can range from “simple acts of kindness, such as fixing a flat tire,” to “heroic life-saving efforts, such as pulling someone from a burning vehicle”.
The latter half of that sentence aptly describes the heroics of Nuñez, a former firefighter who has been driving trucks for the past quarter-century. Currently, he works for Taylor Truck Line.
In early July 2014 Nuñez was driving on I-10 near the Okaloosa-Santa Rosa county line in his home state. As he came to the crest of a hill, he noticed a passenger van leaving the roadway before rolling several times, finally coming to a halt upside-down.
Nuñez safely pulled off to the side of the road, put on his flashers, and rushed to the scene of the accident. When he arrived there, he found a devastating scene: one man was lying unconscious on the edge of the van, his face buried in the earth. Another man, the driver, was trapped and screaming for help.
Nuñez decided to help free the screaming man with a crowbar taken from his truck. Nuñez broke the van’s window, crawled inside the vehicle over broken glass, and began to extricate the man. As the smell of gasoline began to fill the air, Nuñez got the man to safety, from where he was airlifted to a local hospital for treatment. Sadly, the other man involved in the accident died on the scene.
Nuñez was recognized for his heroics with a Highway Angel certificate, a patch, lapel pin, and truck decal. He says being attentive and alert helped him identify and act in this particular situation. “I’m always aware of my surroundings and everything that’s happening out there on the road,” he said. “It’s instinct, I guess.”
The TCA says Nuñez is one of hundreds of truck drivers who have been named a Highway Angel since the program was introduced back in August 1997.