Alexandria, Virginia

The Truckload Carriers Association has named Linden O’Donnell, a professional truck driver with Challenger Motor Freight, a Highway Angel, for stopping to assist motorists following a highway collision that resulted in a vehicle fire.

It was 4:30 a.m., August 21, and Linden O’Donnell was westbound on I-280 (Essex Freeway) near Harrison, New Jersey. O’Donnell, who drives with Challenger Motor Freight out of Ontario, Canada, was in the right-hand lane when a vehicle passed him going 60-65 mph. About 500 feet ahead, an SUV was stalled, sideways, in the left lane, in the path of the passing vehicle. However, O’Donnell could see the driver was making no evasive maneuvers to avoid the stalled vehicle and slammed into it, t-boning it. “I could hear the impact,” he says. Thankfully, the occupants of the SUV were standing on the shoulder, away from their vehicle. O’Donnell pulled over, grabbed his reflective jacket, and ran over to the scene.

“It was crazy,” O’Donnell says. There were five people in the second vehicle. “The driver appeared to be incoherent and impaired and some of the passengers looked like they had broken noses.” O’Donnell managed to open one of the doors and then saw flames licking out from under the hood of the vehicle. He ran back to his truck for a fire extinguisher and quickly worked on the flames so everyone could get out.

O’Donnell stayed on the scene until first responders arrived. He learned that the stalled SUV had been involved in a one-vehicle accident farther back and 911 had already dispatched police.

O’Donnell’s only been driving a couple months but has been around the industry for quite some time. “My dad drove for several years and I saw how much he liked it, so I started doing truck repair and mobile repairs. Then I found Challenger and heard they had an excellent program for new drivers.” Thinking back on the accident he witnessed he says there’s no way he wouldn’t have stopped. “It was very reactive,” he says. “I had to do this. It could have been really bad.”

For his willingness to assist his fellow drivers, TCA has presented Mr. O’Donnell with a certificate, patch, lapel pin, and truck decals. His employer has also received a certificate acknowledging their driver as 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. EpicVue sponsors TCA’s Highway Angel program.