For stopping to help a driver who experienced a tire blowout on the highway, William McNamee of Christopher, Ill., has been named a Highway Angel by the Truckload Carriers Association. McNamee, who has driven trucks professionally for 22 years, is a company driver for Carbon Express Inc., of Wharton, N.J.
It was Sept. 30, 2013, about mid-afternoon. McNamee was driving eastbound on I-64 near Okawville, Ill., when a utility van began passing him on the left. Suddenly, its tire blew out, sending the vehicle down into the ditch in the median and then back up again onto the highway in front of him, straddling both lanes. As he braked to avoid it, the van flipped onto its side and came to rest along the right shoulder.
McNamee maneuvered his tractor-trailer to protect the van and driver from oncoming traffic, called 911, and then got out to help. The gas tank on the van appeared to be leaking, so McNamee climbed onto the van's ladder rack, opened the door, and with the assistance of two other motorists who stopped to help, pulled the driver out to safety. Since he is a volunteer firefighter and a first responder, McNamee began checking the man's vital signs and determined that his injuries were not life-threatening. He then waited with the man until police arrived.
When asked about why he stopped to help in this situation, McNamee says his specialized emergency training provided him with a level of knowledge that the average motorist doesn't have. "For me, it was no different than responding to an emergency by way of a fire engine," he said. "You can't just barge in there. You have to stay calm. I am just blessed to have that [first responder] training and that it allowed me to help someone when they needed it most."
For his selfless actions, McNamee has been presented with a Highway Angel lapel pin, certificate, and patch. Carbon Express also received a certificate acknowledging that one of its drivers is a Highway Angel.