Alexandria, Virginia

The Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) is proud to name Robert Tyler, a resident of Marysville, Washington, as a Highway Angel. Tyler, who drives for Smokey Point Distributing of Arlington, Washington, is being recognized for his willingness to help not only an individual motorist, but also the general public.

On the afternoon of February 13, 2014, Tyler was driving “bobtail” in his tractor (i.e., he was not towing a trailer behind him) through Arlington, Washington, heading westbound on 172nd Street toward his company’s terminal. Ahead, he noticed several vehicles maneuvering around a car that was blocking the lane. When he got to the spot, he could see that something was not right—although the brake lights were on, the driver of the car was slumped over the center console of the vehicle.

Tyler stopped his tractor a few feet ahead and went to assess the scene. It seemed that the man at the wheel had suffered a medical emergency while stopped in traffic and was now unconscious, being held up only by the shoulder strap of his seatbelt. The car was still in “drive” mode, and the only thing keeping it from moving forward into oncoming traffic was the driver’s foot, which was pressing against the brake. The man was convulsing, breathing sporadically, and gasping for air every 40 seconds or so. No one could get inside the car because the doors and windows were locked.

Tyler ran back to his tractor and moved it in front of the car, acting as a barrier to prevent the vehicle from driving into anyone should the man’s foot slip from the brake. He then retrieved a metal bar from his truck and smashed the driver’s side rear window. With the help of some other bystanders, Tyler opened the locks and doors, turned the car off, and pulled the man out onto the ground. A nurse who had stopped to help began administering CPR until paramedics arrived and took control of the situation.

“All I could think was ‘this car is going to take off and slam into oncoming traffic if his foot slides off that brake,’” said Tyler, a commercial truck driver for more than 30 years. “So I placed my truck in front of his car without touching it, just enough so if it started moving, it could only go a few inches.”

This is not the first time that Tyler has shown himself to be a Good Samaritan. Two years ago, he helped a motorcyclist who was seriously injured from crashing into a concrete barrier. And, more recently, he helped dig people out of the mudslide that took place in Oso, Washington, which is only about 10 miles from where Tyler lives.

As a TCA Highway Angel, Tyler has been presented with a certificate, patch, and lapel pin. Smokey Point Distributing 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 unusual kindness, courtesy, and courage they have shown others while on the job.