The Truckload Carriers Association has named professional truck driver Trinidad Arebalo, from Crete, Illinois, a Highway Angel for rushing to the aid of a driver involved in a multiple-vehicle accident.
It happened after 2 a.m. on a very cold February night when Arebalo was heading southbound on Interstate 55 outside Chicago. According to National Weather Service records, the temperature was about 12 degrees at the time and some light snow had fallen a few hours earlier.
Arebalo told TCA that ahead of him that night, another tractor-trailer hit a patch of black ice, causing it to jackknife.
The driver of a sedan wasn’t able to avoid the tractor-trailer, sliding underneath its chassis and catching fire. Arebalo pulled over as safely and quickly as he could, running to help the driver of the car as other people checked on the trucker.
Arebalo quickly discovered the driver, a young woman, was trapped in her vehicle and her foot was caught.
“I knew I had to put the fire out since I couldn’t get her out,” Arebalo said.
He grabbed his fire extinguisher and was able to quickly put out the flames. Although the driver was conscious, Arebalo said she was somewhat incoherent.
“She was in shock, in disbelief,” Arebalo recalled.
As he assured her that help was on the way, she asked him to call her husband. Arebalo made the call and relayed what happened before handing the phone to the young woman. As she was talking to her husband, another vehicle came along, lost control and narrowly missed them. It, too, crashed into the truck’s chassis.
Arebalo waited at the scene with the young woman until first responders arrived. He was able to tell the driver’s husband which hospital would be taking care of her.
Arebalo has been driving for five years, three of which have been with Nationwide Rail Services. For his willingness to help, TCA recently awarded him a certificate, patch, lapel pin and truck decals. His employer has also received a certificate acknowledging its driver as a Highway Angel.
Since the program’s inception in August 1997, nearly 1,300 professional truck drivers have been recognized as Highway Angels for the exemplary kindness, courtesy and courage they have displayed while on the job.
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