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Junichi Shimizu Named Highway Angel for Heroism in Helping Several Crash Victims
Independent Contractor pulled driver out of burning vehicle, saving his life
The Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) is honoring independent contractor Junichi Shimizu as a Highway Angel for his heroism in helping several victims of a serious accident.
It was February 20, 2009, and Shimizu was driving his tractor-trailer westbound along State Route 12 in California. A black sedan was traveling in front of him. Suddenly, a silver car traveling eastbound crossed the double yellow lines and crashed head-on into the sedan, also taking out the front end of Shimizu’s truck in the process. Then the silver car burst into flames.
Shimizu swerved to avoid the vehicles and brought his truck to a stop, but instead of taking time to inspect his truck’s damage, he raced over to help the crash victims. Seeing that the driver of the now fully-flaming silver car was still alive, he broke the glass and pulled him to safety.
By now, other motorists had stopped to help, so Shimizu had time to run back to his truck and get a fire extinguisher, but the fire was out of control. He then turned his attention to the victims in the black sedan. “I could see that the driver of the sedan was dead, so I grabbed some moving pads from my truck and covered the body. I wanted to shield it from gawking passersby,” recalled Shimizu.
Fortunately, said Shimizu, the two other passengers in the sedan and the driver of the silver car survived, despite moderate to severe injuries. When the police arrived, they questioned Shimizu for nearly two hours. “The whole thing was a big mess,” he said, also noting that his truck took more than three months to repair. But his heroic efforts did not go unnoticed. On April 8, 2009, the California Highway Patrol presented Shimizu with a certificate of commendation for his actions.
A driver for Chipman Relocations, an agent of United Van Lines of Fairfield, California, Shimizu received a Highway Angel lapel pin, certificate, and patch for his efforts. Chipman Relocations and United Van Lines also received a certificate acknowledging that one of its drivers is a Highway Angel.
Since its inception in August 1997, the Highway Angels program has recognized hundreds of drivers for the unusual kindness, courtesy, and courage they have shown others while on the job. TCA has received letters and e-mails from people across North America nominating truck drivers for the program.