New Highway Angel: Saving lives while on the job

The Truckload Carriers Association’s designation of Highway Angel is reserved for those in the trucking industry who demonstrate immense amounts of kindness, courage, empathy, and selflessness to others while on the job.

Mike Lempka, who drives for ABF Freight in Fort Smith, Arkansas, was recently given the designation for saving a man who experienced a medical emergency while driving, causing him to crash through a fence and hitting a flagpole. Lempka helped to remove the man from the car following the crash, as reported by Truckers News.

The collision happened in the morning of Jan. 25 in Lincoln, Nebraska, as Lempka and a co-worker were walking to their trucks to start their day. The two heard a loud noise and when they turned their attention to see what had caused it, witnessed a car crashing through a fence and into a flagpole. They immediately began to help.

“We ran over there and this guy is in his vehicle,” Lempka said. “He’s clearly having an episode – he’s shaking.”

Before Lempka could call emergency services, a police officer pulled onto the scene. The man in the car had been ahead of him in traffic, and the officer had witnessed the crash. The driver was unresponsive when the officer tried to talk to him. Deciding that they needed to remove him from his vehicle, Lempka helped the officer safely get the man out.

The officer began CPR while Lempka, a volunteer driver for the Adams Rescue Squad in his hometown and a holder of CPR certification, stood nearby to offer any aid.

“This guy was literally dead,” Lempka said. “He (the officer) would do chest compressions and this guy’s eyes would open up and look around, then he would stop chest compressions and then the guy would just fade away.”

Lempka’s immediate response to the crash, and his help in getting the man out of the vehicle, helped to save a life. The officer on the scene contacted Lempka after the accident to tell him that the driver had survived.

“This was his lucky day,” Lempka said. “It just felt like somebody needed help – it seemed like the right thing to do.”