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Alexandria, Virginia

Donald Wood of Fort Smith, Arkansas, a professional truck driver for ABF Freight System, Inc. also of Fort Smith, has been named a Highway Angel by the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA). He is being recognized for his willingness to help an elderly man whose vehicle went off the road during a blinding snowstorm.

In the morning hours of January 12, 2019 Wood was waiting out a blizzard in Liberal, Kansas, a town of nearly 20,000 people, just off Highway 54. The roads were closed in the area and the temperature was hovering around 18 degrees. Wood had pulled his truck into a motel parking lot and was waiting for the weather to clear so he could head home to Albuquerque, some 380 miles away. As he waited, he happened to notice headlights in the snow perhaps 100 yards away, but they weren’t moving.

“I knew something was wrong,” said Wood. He got out of his truck and trudged across the road, bracing himself against the heavy winds and blowing snow. He discovered a small pickup truck with a camper trailer stuck in a snowdrift. Wood thought he was in a parking lot but it turned out he was on a playground, next to a children’s slide. Inside the pickup truck was an elderly man and his dog. “He was so happy to see me,” recalled Wood. “He said he didn’t know where he was and he was afraid he’d freeze to death out there.” The man told Wood he was headed to Kansas City when he got caught up in the storm. “I told him I’d stay with him and get him out.” Wood found a broken shovel at the motel and worked for over an hour to release the pickup truck’s tires from the impacted snow. He then directed the elderly man to move his vehicle to the motel’s parking lot and to go inside to warm up and wait out the storm.

The man thanked Wood and offered to pay him for helping him out but Wood refused. “It’s hard to see someone stuck in those kinds of conditions,” he said. “I just wanted to help him. As a truck driver, the people we meet along the way are all potential customers for the trucking industry. It’s important for us to show up as a positive role model and help where we can.”

For his willingness to assist his fellow drivers, TCA has presented Wood with a certificate, patch, lapel pin, and truck decals. ABF Freight System, Inc. also received a certificate acknowledging their driver as a Highway Angel.