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Goodyear names highway hero finalists

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Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. will announce the winner of the 32nd Goodyear Highway Hero Award on Thursday, March 26, during the Mid-America Trucking Show (MATS) in Louisville, Ky.

The Goodyear Highway Hero Award honors professional truck drivers who put themselves in harm’s way to help others.

“Truck drivers are often the first responders to on-highway incidents, putting their lives on the line to save people from dangerous situations,” says Gary Medalis, director of marketing for Goodyear Commercial Tire Systems.

Finalists for the 32nd Goodyear Highway Hero Award include a driver who rescued a law enforcement official who was being strangled by a prisoner, a driver who rescued a woman and a one-year-old child from a burning car, and a driver who pulled a semi-conscious man from a flame-engulfed SUV.

“Each of our Highway Hero Award finalists took action without concern for his own safety and is worthy of recognition,” says Medalis.

Trucking industry journalists are now evaluating the three finalists. The truck driver who is named the 32nd Goodyear Highway Hero will receive a special ring, a $5,000 award and a congratulatory crystal. Each of the other finalists will receive a cash prize and other items.

“Each of this year’s Highway Hero Award finalists is a true hero in his own right and a credit to the trucking industry,” says Medalis. “We look forward to honoring these individuals for their courage during MATS.”

This year’s Goodyear Highway Hero Award finalists are:

Clinton Blackburn, a driver from Morehead, Ky. Blackburn was driving near Elizabethtown, Ky. when he observed a sheriff’s cruiser lurch toward the highway median and abruptly stop. He pulled up to investigate and noticed that the car’s driver side door was open. Inside, the driver, Spencer County jailer Darrell Herndon, was being strangled from behind by a prisoner who was leaning over the back seat. Blackburn ran to the car, reached into the vehicle through its driver side door, and began struggling with the prisoner in an effort to free Herndon, who was immobilized by his seat belt. During the melee, the prisoner pulled Herndon’s gun from its holster. Blackburn immediately grabbed the barrel of the gun and pointed it toward the car’s dashboard. Meanwhile, Herndon released his seat belt and rolled out of the car. The prisoner then tried to point the gun at Blackburn, who turned the weapon around and aimed it at the prisoner. Pointing the gun at the prisoner, Blackburn backed away from the car. Realizing the cruiser’s keys were still in the ignition, the prisoner tried to start the car and drive away. Working together, Blackburn and Herndon subdued him.

David Fredericksen, a driver from Windermere, Fla. Fredericksen was driving down an interstate near Gulfport, Miss., when he saw a car crash into another truck and catch fire. He grabbed his fire extinguisher and ran to the car. Fredericksen repelled the flames enough to reach the car’s passenger side door. By this time, several spectators had joined him. They helped him remove the passengers – including a woman who had suffered a broken leg and her year-old grandchild – from the blazing car. By the time firefighters reached the scene, the vehicle’s passenger area was completely engulfed in flames. The incident was captured by Fredericksen’s dashboard camera. (To view an ABC news report about the rescue, click here.)

Mack Guffey, a driver from Gainesboro, Tenn. Guffey was driving near New York City when an SUV passed his truck and slammed into a guard rail. The SUV flipped over and landed on its side. The front of the vehicle burst into flames. Guffey stopped his truck, grabbed his fire extinguisher and ran over to the SUV. While fighting the fire, he tried to reach into the SUV through its broken windshield to grab the vehicle’s severely injured, semi-conscious driver. Using his extinguisher, he then smashed the SUV’s side window, grabbed the driver and carried him to safety. Fearing that other people were trapped inside the SUV, Guffey ran back to the now flame-engulfed vehicle. (He discovered that nobody else was inside.) Guffey, whose clothes had caught fire during the rescue and suffered several cuts and burns due to his efforts, stayed with the vehicle’s driver until help arrived.

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