Alexandria, Virginia

Clay McDonald of Amarillo, Texas, has been named a Highway Angel by the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA). McDonald, who drives for ABF Freight System of Fort Smith, Arkansas, is being recognized for helping a man trapped in a dangerous situation.

On September 24, 2014, at about midnight, McDonald was driving westbound on I-40 from Amarillo, Texas, to Albuquerque, New Mexico, when he spotted a pickup truck on the side of the road with its flashers on. He switched into the left lane. As he got closer, he saw something lying in the middle of the road. It turned out to be a man, wrapped up in a tarp, waving a dim flashlight at him.

McDonald pulled over just past the man and ran back toward him, waving his own flashlight to signal oncoming traffic of the danger ahead. The road was busy that night, and several vehicles came uncomfortably close before switching to the left lane just in time and speeding past. He knew there was a high probability that the man would be hit if he remained in the roadway.

The disoriented motorist told McDonald that his back hurt a lot. McDonald responded that he had to get him out of the road. The man held his arm up so McDonald could drag him – still wrapped in the tarp – from the middle of the lane to the shoulder of the road. Once they were safe, McDonald waited with the man until the police arrived, not attempting to move him from the tarp since a serious back or neck injury was likely involved.

It turns out that the man – a carpenter – had run out of gas. As he prepared to walk to the nearest gas station, McDonald believes he was attempting to secure his tools and other valuables inside the tarp so they wouldn’t get stolen. He somehow got tangled in the tarp, fell out of the pickup, and hurt himself so severely that he couldn’t move on his own.

Before being taken to the hospital, the man grabbed McDonald’s leg, reached up to shake his hand, and said, “You probably saved my life. A couple of those [vehicles] almost hit me.”

McDonald, who has been driving professionally since 1988, notes that while others had apparently called 911, no one else actually stopped to help.

“I was raised to respect life. I couldn’t stand the thought of someone lying in the road to be run over,” he said.

For his selfless efforts to help the man in the tarp, TCA has presented McDonald with a certificate, patch, lapel pin, and truck decal. ABF Freight also received a certificate acknowledging that one of its drivers is a Highway Angel.

TCA’s Highway Angel program is sponsored by EpicVue. Since the program’s inception in August 1997, hundreds of drivers have been recognized as Highway Angels for the unusual kindness, courtesy, and courage they have shown others while on the job.