LOUISVILLE, Ky. (April 5, 2005) — Trucker Rick Dent was named the 22nd Goodyear North American Highway Hero for saving a man and his two children from a roadside ditch teeming with snakes.
Mr. Dent of Diana, Texas, is a driver for Groendyke Transport Inc. On July 14 near Jena, La., Bob Strickland swerved to miss a deer and landed in a 6-foot-deep water-filled ditch, said Goodyear, which sponsors the annual award for truckers who provide live-saving rescues and roadside assistance. Mr. Strickland's small children, Megan and Paul, were in the vehicle as well.
According to a Goodyear statement, Mr. Strickland said he couldn't get out and the car was sinking. Megan was screaming, and Mr. Dent swam to the car.
“This huge man pulled the door open about three inches, but it was stuck,” Mr. Strickland said. “Suddenly, my daughter screamed again, and he grabs the door and pulls it off the car like it is made of cardboard.”
Mr. Dent carried the children to land, then returned for Mr. Strickland, whose foot was wedged under the dashboard.
“This man saved our lives,” Mr. Strickland said. “The car sank before he got me to the bank. I have a new respect for truck drivers.”
Mr. Dent received a $10,000 U.S. savings bond and a Highway Hero ring.
Other finalists for the award included: Jose Ogas Jr. of Fayetteville, N.C.; Pat Foraker of Quaker City, Ohio; and David Tucker of Ls Grande, Ore.