Alexandria, Virginia

The Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) has recognized truck driver Leonard T. “Lenny” Roach of Villa Park, Illinois, as a Highway Angel for pulling a motorist out of a car filling with water despite the risks to his own life.

The incident took place just after 5 a.m. on Feb. 19, 2008. Roach was driving his regular truck route along I-94 near South Bend, Indiana, being especially careful because the wind chill factor was -20 that day and icy road conditions were causing numerous accidents. Suddenly, he saw the car in front of him hit a patch of black ice. The car veered off the roadway and down an embankment, rolling several times before landing upside down in a water-filled ditch.
According to an article that was published in The Times of Northwest Indiana, the local newspaper for the area, the driver, Ernesto R. Soto, 49, was not injured from the crash. However, his car quickly filled with water, and he was hanging upside down from his seat belt. Soto managed to undo the belt and crawl into the back seat, where he temporarily found a pocket of air to breathe.
Meanwhile, Roach stopped his truck and ran down the embankment. He attempted to open one of the car’s doors, but could not, so went around to the other side and forced open the other door. With freezing cold water already up to his shoulders, Roach extracted the driver, carried him back up the hill and put him into his warm cab, where they waited for almost two hours before emergency rescue personnel could arrive from tending to other accidents.
In the past, Roach had helped other motorists with things like fixing flat tires, but had never been involved with a rescue of this magnitude before. “It’s just what you’ve got to do,” he said simply.
A driver for Unisource of Addison, Illinois, Roach received a Highway Angel lapel pin, certificate, and patch for his efforts. Unisource also received a certificate acknowledging that one of its drivers is a Highway Angel.

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.