Alexandria, Virginia

The Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) is honoring professional truck driver Ronnie Hartweck as a Highway Angel for his help at the scene of an attempted suicide.

On June 8, 2009, a woman jumped from an Interstate 57 overpass just north of Mattoon, Illinois, in an apparent suicide attempt. She landed on the highway a few vehicles ahead of Hartweck.

Hartweck and the other drivers swerved to avoid hitting her.  Some steered to the right; others veered to the left.  Hartweck locked his brakes down and managed to pull to the shoulder of the road without hitting anyone.

“I’ve always been a quick thinker, so the first thing that came into my mind was to somehow block the oncoming traffic from hitting her,” said Hartweck. So he quickly positioned his truck diagonally across both lanes, preventing oncoming vehicles from slamming into the victim or the other motorists who had stopped to help.  He then used his CB radio to let the other truckers behind him know what had happened so they could bring their trucks to a safe stop well in advance of the scene.

The woman was still alive and suffering from two broken elbows and a concussion, among other injuries.  However, by the time paramedics arrived, all of the other witnesses had returned to their vehicles and left the scene.  Hartweck was the only one left to provide a statement for authorities.

“I don’t want to be a hero,” said Hartweck modestly. “The Lord put me there for a reason – to block traffic that day.”

Family members of the woman – who survived – later praised Hartweck for his actions.  In online comments written in conjunction with the published newspaper account of the incident, the woman’s husband wrote: “I just wanted to thank Ronnie Hartweck and all others who helped save the life of my wife and mother of our beautiful girls.  I will forever be grateful for the heroic action that Hartweck and the other drivers showed.  I don’t know how I could have gone on if I had lost her, let alone tell my girls.  I thank you and God from the bottom of my heart.”

A driver for Steve Silver Company of Forney, Texas, Hartweck received a Highway Angel lapel pin, certificate, and patch for his efforts.  The Steve Silver Company 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.