Alexandria, Virginia

Despite almost being hit by a motorist who lost control of his vehicle, Thomas (Tommy) L. Colston was willing to stop and help as an accident unfolded into a fiery situation. For his selfless actions, the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) has named him a Highway Angel.

A professional truck driver for more than 18 years, Colston is a resident of Burleson, Texas, and drives for Frito-Lay, Inc., of Dallas, Texas. On November 22, 2013, he had just dropped off a load and was headed eastbound on I-20 toward Dallas. It was about 10:20 p.m., and the roads were a little slick.

Suddenly, in the rearview mirror, he saw a pickup truck coming toward him, out of control. Colston’s defensive driving skills kicked in, and he managed to steer out of the way. The pickup careened past him, hit a retaining wall, went airborne, spun around, and landed upside down. As it did so, it hit another pickup truck and a tractor-trailer.

Colston came to a safe stop, called 911, and got out to help. The occupants of the tractor-trailer and the second pickup truck seemed okay, but the first pickup had now caught on fire. The man inside was screaming, “Help me! Get me out!” He was trapped inside, with his leg jammed up under the dash. Another motorist got a fire extinguisher from the tractor-trailer and threw it to Colston, who used it to smother the flames. Soon, authorities arrived and took over, but the situation could have been much worse for the man had Colston not been willing to get involved.

Fortunately, as a former police officer, Colston has experience with emergency situations. “People freeze in their footsteps when they see something happen like this,” he said. “But I could hear the guy screaming for help… it would have been very bad for him if we hadn’t gotten those flames out.”

As TCA’s latest Highway Angel, Colston has been presented with a certificate, patch, and lapel pin. Frito-Lay 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.