Alexandria, Virginia

The Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) recently recognized Jose Ogas, Jr., of Fayetteville, N.C., as a Highway Angel for saving the lives of a father and his young daughter involved in a serious accident.

On December 31, Ogas was driving for TMC Transportation on Highway 70 in Pennsylvania, when he noticed the driver in front of him kept swerving over the yellow line into oncoming traffic. Ogas decided to keep his distance, but suddenly the car shot off the road and landed upside down. Ogas immediately got on the CB radio to call for help and then pulled his rig over and grabbed his fire extinguisher. The vehicle’s engine was smoking when he arrived, and Ogas couldn’t see anything inside except a body and blood dripping down the windows. He was apprehensive at first, but then he heard crying and spotted a little girl in the back seat. That’s when he decided to act.

“I knew I had to help her when I saw her moving around,” Ogas said. “I knew it was important for me to get her out.”

Fearful the smoking vehicle might explode, Ogas pleaded with several other motorists to help him. One bystander, who had emergency medical training, told Ogas he should not move the child because of the risks involved. “I told him, ‘I don’t care if I go to jail, I can’t let that girl die,’” Ogas recalled.

As the men lifted the car, Ogas slid part of his body through the driver’s window, grabbed the girl’s legs, and pulled her out. “She grabbed me by the neck and wouldn’t let go,” he said. The girl, about 8- or 9-years old had a cut on her head and was dizzy, but she was able to tell Ogas that there was one more person in the car – her father.

Ogas returned to the vehicle, and once again the men lifted it so he could crawl in to rescue the father. He got hold of the man by the shoulders and with difficulty removed him from the car. The man was bleeding and disoriented, but the first thing he asked about what his daughter. Not wanting to upset him further, Ogas reassured him that the girl was fine and he kept them separated so that the father would not see his child’s bloody face. Ogas had the man lie down, and he put his jacket under his head. Applying his Army training with a combat lifesaving team, Ogas was able to administer basic first aid to the man and his young daughter.

“When the paramedics arrived, they told me what I did was really great,” he said. Ogas realizes he saved the lives of two people that day, “and I felt good about that afterwards.”

Ogas received a Highway Angel lapel pin, certificate, and patch for his efforts, and TMC Transportation, based in Des Moines, Iowa, also received a certificate for acknowledging a Highway Angel in their midst.

“We continue to be amazed by the number of professional truck drivers who go out of their way to help a stranger and many times put their lives at risk as well,” said Nancy O’Liddy, director of public affairs and marketing for TCA. “TCA is proud and delighted to offer the kind of program that gives these drivers the recognition and support they deserve while at the same time creates a greater public awareness and appreciation for the many outstanding drivers in this industry.”

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.