Alexandria, Virginia

The Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) has named Serge Vandenput, a professional truck driver for ABF Freight System, Inc., of Fort Smith, Arkansas, as its latest Highway Angel.

At about 11:30 p.m. on March 5, 2011, Vandenput was traveling on I-80 westbound near Sparks, Nevada, when he noticed furniture scattered across the road. Next he saw vehicle pieces and then a wrecked car with a female driver pinned inside. He would later find out that an unknown vehicle had dropped the furniture, and this woman had come upon a large, sofa-sized object at nearly 70 mph (the speed limit in that area). In her attempt to swerve away, she hit a guard rail, bounced off of it, struck another vehicle, bounced off of that, and then crashed into the guard rail again. Her severely smashed vehicle was now blocking the left lane and part of the right lane. It had no lights and could not be seen by oncoming traffic.

Thinking quickly, Vandenput used his truck to block off the area, protecting the woman from any further injury. He then assisted other motorists in getting her out of the car before helping direct traffic around the crash scene.

“I knew if I didn’t block traffic, she was going to get hit,” said Vandenput, who just last year used a flashlight to direct traffic around a six-car accident in San Jose, California. At that incident, no other motorists stopped. “It’s part of our jobs as truck drivers to help people out.”

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.