Brian Puff, a professional truck driver for Crete Carrier of Lincoln, Neb., has been named a Highway Angel by the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA). The Jacksonville, N.C., driver was recognized for his willingness to stop and help at the scene of a fatal accident.
On a late morning in mid-October last year, Puff said he was headed westbound on I-80 near North Platte, Neb., when an SUV passed him and then suddenly crossed the median. The car plowed head-on into a tractor trailer that was heading eastbound.
The truck burst into flames, but its driver managed to jump out just in time. When Puff asked the driver what type of load he was carrying, the trucker was too dazed to remember. Fearing that there could be hazardous materials inside the trailer, Puff loaded the driver in his truck and drove him a quarter mile up the road to a safe location.
Puff then returned to the scene and checked in on the SUV driver, who was mortally injured in the crash. Puff stayed with the man, comforting him until he died of his injuries.
At about that time, two bystanders told Puff had seen children’s clothes in the car, so he began frantically searching through the back seat for children who might be trapped. He said he relieved to find no one else in the car.
The tractor trailer driver finally relayed a document to Puff showing that his load was not hazardous, so when the police arrived, Puff was able to tell officers that information and give a statement about what he had witnessed.
“I can’t begin to tell you how glad I am that there were no children involved,” said Puff, who performed crash, fire, and rescue services for the U.S. Marines for more than eight years before becoming a professional truck driver.
“The sad thing was that if the driver of the SUV had been wearing his seatbelt, he would have lived. I just hope he didn’t suffer.”
For stopping and helping that day, TCA has presented Puff with a certificate, patch, lapel pin, and truck decal. Crete Carrier also received a certificate acknowledging that one of its drivers is a Highway Angel.