Truckload Carriers Association names OOIDA member John Vesey highway angel
January 22, 2021
John Vesey’s training as a paramedic and emergency response experience helped avert a greater tragedy on Dec. 19 near Galesburg, Ill.
Vesey, an OOIDA life member from Oregon, Ill., drives for Monmouth, Ill.-based Hirschbach Motor Lines. He was traveling west on U.S. Highway 34 when another truck passed him in the left lane.
Seconds later, Vesey noticed there was trouble.
“Everything looked fine when he passed me,” he said. “Then all of a sudden he veered off to the left, then veered off to the right. I started slowing down and realized something was going on.”
The passing driver lost control, crossing into the center median, and then went in a ditch before driving approximately 100 yards into a cornfield, according to Vesey.
He immediately stopped to help the other driver, and while doing so he observed the driver jump from the still-moving truck.
Vesey exited his truck with fire and smoke now visible from the cab of the wrecked truck. He raced through the field and extinguished the flames with an extinguisher from his truck. He then checked on the driver, who had suffered burns on his back and head.
“I put out (the) fire and came back to driver to check on him until paramedics arrived,” he said. “It all happened pretty quickly. I have been in high-stress situations before. For me, it was having to take my mindset from being a trucker back to my time as a paramedic. In these situations, time slows down. Fortunately I was able to react with my previous exposure and training.”
In addition to his experience as a paramedic, Vesey is a Navy veteran who was deployed to the Persian Gulf.
Vesey also credited the driver for his response during the situation.
“I don’t know exactly what happened to cause the crash, but he did a great job responding,” he said. “The trucker did exactly the right thing by getting the truck into the cornfield and off the road to avoid a potential collision or pile up.”
Vesey received a certificate, patch, lapel pin, and truck decals from Truckload Carriers Association as well as a certificate from Hirschbach Motor Lines acknowledging him as a Highway Angel.
The program has recognized nearly 1,300 professional truck drivers as Highway Angels for exemplary kindness, courtesy, and courage displayed while on the job. LL