Alexandria, Virginia          

The Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) has named Robert Coats from Stow, Ohio, a Highway Angel for rescuing a woman from a burning car seconds before it exploded. Coats drives for Hogan Transports based in St. Louis, Missouri.

It’s an incredible story: On March 24, 2022, he was traveling on I-65 Southbound in Kentucky when he approached an accident involving two commercial motor vehicles and a car, all three of which were on fire. “I saw a big plume of smoke, and then flames,” Coats shared with TCA. “Something just said, ‘pull over.’” Upon reaching the accident scene, he found a woman trapped in her car, which was on fire. The driver’s side door was engulfed in four-foot-high flames. Coats bravely climbed in the driver’s side back seat. “As she was stuck in there, I reached in,” he said, “I said, ‘Ma’am! Ma’am – we’ve gotta get out! We’ve gotta get out!” 

Without a moment to spare, Coats coaxed her to climb over the seat of the burning car into the back seat, and he proceed to pull her out of the rear door window to safety. “And shortly thereafter, the car exploded.” The woman suffered multiple injuries and was airlifted to receive medical attention. Three weeks later, the woman contacted Coats to thank him. Since then, he has met with the woman and her family, who were very grateful for his help during the accident. 

“Mr. Coats used his fire extinguisher to stave off the fire that had ignited the victim’s car,” said Kentucky State Police Officer Kelly Anderson. “He entered into a funnel of two CMV’s that were on fire as well as the surrounding area. Witnesses stated he was holding back the fire until he was able to remove her and pull her to safety moments before the car exploded.” 

Coats said that it was a miracle neither he nor the crash victim suffered any burns, despite being in a car engulfed in flames. Many have asked Coats, why jump into a burning car? 

“There wasn’t a second thought about it,” he said. “I just did it – I saw, and I went– that was it. Everything worked out in God’s favor – that’s how He wanted it.” The Kentucky State Police reported, “Mr. Coats went above and beyond and saved this lady’s life. He is a tribute to his profession.” 

TCA has presented him with a certificate, patches, lapel pin, and truck decals. The company has also received a letter acknowledging him as a Highway Angel.

Since the program’s inception in August 1997, nearly 1,300 professional truck drivers have been recognized as Highway Angels for the exemplary kindness, courtesy, and courage they have displayed while on the job.

Special thanks to the program’s Presenting Sponsor, EpicVue, and Supporting Sponsor, DriverFacts.