Alexandria, Virginia

The Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) has added two professional truck drivers to its roster of Highway Angels: Brian McHale of Gatineau, Québec, and Lee Wood of Kingston, Ontario. The team drives for Bison Transport, Inc., of Winnipeg, Manitoba.

On July 18, 2011, McHale and Wood were on a trip from Winnipeg to Mississauga. As they approached their turnoff on Highway 401 westbound near Dixie Road, Wood saw car parts flying up in the air in the express lanes beside them. The driver of a tractor-trailer had not stopped in time and had plowed into an SUV that was slowed almost to a stop in rush hour traffic.

“This is not going to be good. We have to stop… we have no choice,” McHale told Wood. They pulled over to a safe location, grabbed their reflective vests and first aid kit, and then dodged across four lanes of traffic to reach the accident scene. McHale went straight to the SUV, which was almost completely crushed and now smoldering and soaked in gasoline. He checked the driver’s vital signs, discovering that the man was unconscious and had severe injuries. He was able to briefly revive him with CPR, but soon realized that the injuries were so bad he would not stay alive very long. McHale held the man, calmly reassuring him that his family loved him and that they would be okay. They said a prayer together, and then the man took his last breath in McHale’s arms.

Meanwhile, Wood dedicated himself to helping the man who caused the accident. He was tremendously grief-stricken over what had just happened. Wood calmed him down as best he could. At the same time, he made sure that no one created a spark or flame (because gasoline had spilled all over the highway) and also kept witnesses/bystanders from being struck by the relentless onslaught of rush hour traffic.

“The whole thing was tragic,” said McHale, a former police officer and police academy instructor of 20 years. “Everyone on that highway was more interested in getting home than stopping to help. The cars were bumper to bumper trying to pass the wreck. Nobody cared.”

Since the program’s inception in August 1997, hundreds of drivers have been recognized as Highway Angels for the exemplary kindness, courtesy, and courage they have displayed while on the job.