Alexandria, Virginia

The Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) recently recognized John Grulke, of Loveland, Colorado, as a Highway Angel for his selfless actions that saved lives and businesses threatened by an electrical fire.

Grulke, a driver for United Parcel Service, was completing a delivery in an office building when he noticed smoke emerging overhead from the door of an adjacent business. Just five minutes prior he had delivered a package to that business, Colorado Door Control, and he knew the owners, Mark and Julie Nordstrom, were somewhere inside the office.

“I peeked my head in the door and saw one of the exhaust fans was on fire,” Grulke said. Flames rose to the ceiling. Grulke wasted no time. He ran down the hallway yelling, “Fire! Where’s your fire extinguisher?”

Julie Nordstrom quickly appeared, fire extinguisher in hand, jumped on a desk, and with Grulke’s assistance, put out the flames while her husband Mark called 911. By the time the fire trucks arrived, all visible signs of the fire had been extinguished and a potential disaster had been averted.

People in the building “didn’t have a clue,” Grulke said. “They probably wouldn’t have known until it was too late.” Because the building houses several businesses, including a dentist office, pharmacy, and other offices connected to a main, wooden structure, the fire could have rapidly escalated. But Grulke’s quick thinking and actions kept structural damage to a minimum and ensured everyone was safely evacuated. Mark Nordstrom, of Colorado Door Control, was especially appreciative of Grulke’s efforts. “If it wasn’t for John, I don’t know what would have happened that day. It could have been a lot worse,” he said.

“I figured I’d better let someone know,” Grulke explained. “I didn’t think about any danger.”

Grulke received a Highway Angel lapel pin, certificate, and patch for his efforts, and his employer, UPS Loveland Center, also received a certificate for acknowledging a Highway Angel in their midst. Grulke has been driving for UPS since 1989.

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.