Trucking Life: People
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Bison Driver’s Heroics Earn Him “Highway Angel”

Bison Transport driver and Highway Angel, Gary de Vos.

WINNIPEG, MB — If there’s one sense that a truck driver needs to be sharper than the others, it’s the sense of sight—especially at night. Striking a deer on the road is dangerous for any vehicle, truck or otherwise, let alone an elk or moose.

But on April 23, 2014 it wasn’t a deer that Bison Transport’s Gary de Vos spotted. It was a man struggling to survive under a brown blanket that camouflaged him amongst the dirt shoulder on the side of Highway 1 just east of Winnipeg.

The shivering man had struck a deer sprinting across the dark road, sending his car somersaulting 30 feet off the remote stretch of highway and into the wet, grassy roadside bog. He managed to writhe his way out of the overturned car, clinging to the soggy blanket for over 45 minutes before de Vos found him. Almost 30 vehicles had sped right past the man in that time.

“As a night-time driver who has to pass through a highly deer-prone area, I’m always scanning the roadway left to right because deer are so hard to see,” said de Vos, a 32-year veteran of the Canadian military and a five-year professional driver. “A guy under a brown blanket, sitting on a dirt shoulder in the dark, he blended right in. It would have been so easy to miss him if it weren’t for the movement he made.”

De Vos stopped his truck and helped the man into the cab’s warmth while he unsuccessfully tried to call for help through his CB. His cell phone was also out of signal range, but he finally managed to get through to his dispatcher through satellite communication.

Fortunately, a fellow Samaritan stopped to help, calling 911 for de Vos. He told the operator what happened and helped keep the man warm until emergency personnel arrived on the scene.

In recognition of de Vos’ goodwill, the Truckload Carriers Association named him a Highway Angel and presented him with a certificate, patch and lapel pin. The TCA also gave Bison Transport a certificate to acknowledge one of its drivers is a Highway Angel.

“I’m just glad I could help someone,” de Vos said.

 
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