Friday, June 5, 2009

A Selfless Act ...


I would like to introduce my 'baby' brother, Steve, and his wife, Kim. Kim and Steve live in Oklahoma when they aren't driving a truck across the country for Panther Expedited Services. In February, the couple was honored with the Open Road Foundation's first Hero of the Highway Award for rescuing an injured driver from a burning vehicle.

In the June 2009 issue of Reader's Digest on page 31, the story of these two 'heroes' can be read. I'm not trying to 'steal' any of their 'thunder' or trying to pump myself up with "hey, look what my brother did" ... I just wanted to tell you about them and a selfless act of bravery ... I'm not sure that I could have or would have done what Kim and Steve did last November 25th in Kentucky on Interstate 75.

Kim was driving, they were in route to Detroit, Steve was asleep in the sleeping quarters of the cab. Kim noticed a bright glow reflecting off the blacktop. She first thought it was a grass fire, until she got closer and saw an 18-wheeler had run off the road into a ravine. The cab was engulfed in flames. Kim screamed, waking up Steve, while pulling their truck over to the shoulder. Steve began descending on foot to the truck, which had settled at the bottom of the 60-foot ravine, He could hear the truck driver's cries for help, but as traffic began to back up on the highway, a car unable to stop careened over the embankment toward him. Steve managed to jump up and skid over the car's hood. The car came to rest dangerously close to the burning truck. Kim ran toward the car and help the passengers who were not injured move the car away from the truck.

When Steve made it to the burning truck he found the driver hanging from the truck's passenger side door. The man's legs were on fire and he was trying desperately to free himself. He had cut himself free from the driver's side seat belt only to get his boot caught in another. Steve said there was no bravery involved, he just knew he had to get the driver out of there ... he didn't stop to think about it. Steve finally pulled the driver out after attempting to get him free three times. The driver's legs were still burning, Steve beat the flames with his shirt and began dragging him away. He managed to drag him about 20 yards before the truck's fuel tanks exploded, raining fire and debris all around. Kim grabbed towels and a blanket from their truck, poured water over them and placed over the driver's legs.

Kim and Steve continue to say that the driver was the real hero! Ronnie Sanders, 38, from Indianapolis, Indiana had been hauling a heavy load of tractors from Georgia to Indianapolis when a car directly in front of him suddenly came to a complete stop in traffic on the icy road. Ronnie saw children in the back seat of the car, he realized with the speed of the truck as well as the weight, his truck would kill all of the occupants in the car.

Ronnie purposely jerked the steering wheel sharply to the right, the truck plunged into the deep ravine, where rocks pierced a fuel tank, which ignited. Ronnie lost consciousness when a tree smashed through the windshield. When he awoke a few minutes later his legs were on fire.

Ronnie Sanders suffered severe burns over nearly half of his body; he spent two months in the hospital receiving skin grafts. It will take up to two years for Ronnie to fully recover from his injuries.

Steve suffered minor burns and smoke inhalation; he has had surgery for some broken teeth from the debris in the explosion.

Steve and Ronnie have become close friends, albeit it through emails for the most part. There is one phone call that Kim and Steve will not forget ... it was from Ronnie's 6 year old son, thanking them for "saving my daddy's life."

14 comments:

Tatersmama said...

OMG... I was crying at the end of this! When I read what Ronnie did to save those innocent children, I started bawling!

God Bless you Kim and Steve!

And Bless you too Sandy, for sharing this with us! It sounds like *special-ness* runs in the family...
xoxox

Jadehollow said...

What a great story Sandy.. I'll have to make sure I find that copy of Readers Digest. God was surely watching over I-75 that night. Ronnie saved those children and in return his life was saved by Kim and Steve. *Standing Ovation and Woo Hoo's to all Three*

Robynn's Ravings said...

Oh my goodness, Sandy. What an unbelievable story!!!! They certainly are heroes and I'm not surprised but your brother sounds like he's made of the same stuff you are.

I'm featuring this today with a link to this article. It sounds like ALL the heroes in this are fantastic human beings and we need more of them and to hear more about them!

(Oh, and that truck driver was exactly right. I had a friend whose husband drove a truck and when a woman locked 'em up for a fast stop at a light she should have proceeded through, he plowed right over the top of her car and killed her. This guy was willing to give his life to save those kids. Tears and tears.......)

Mountain Woman said...

Robynn of Robynn's Ravings mentioned your blog on her blog and I had to read the story. What an inspiration and how wonderful to know there are still such selfless, courageous people in the world.
Thanks so much for sharing their story.

theglassdragonfly said...

Robynn sent me over here to read this story and I am glad that she did. What a great story! All three are heroes!

Thanks for sharing it.

Muddy Boot Dreams said...

Amazing, simply amazing.

Jen

Cedar ... said...

I found you through Robynn's blog,... your brother and wife are HEROES whether they think so or not. Hugs all around!

Vicky said...

So glad Robyn sent me over here to read! Amazing acts of heroism all the way around!! To have the fortitiude to know his truck would endanger others and to take the brunt of the on himself, oh wow! That makes the first driver a hero, but he would not have been here to tell the story had he not been pulled from the truck by your brother.

Thanks for bringing this story to light. You should be so proud!!

Daryl said...

Over from Robynn's and now I am totally fa-klempt but so proud of your brother, SIL and Ronnie ... amazing people!

Kaleena said...

Robynn sent me here. This is truly an inspirational story. I bet you are very proud of them for their courage!

Sarah said...

I have just stumbled onto your blog. Wow am I ever glad I picked today to read your post. What an amazing story.

Homestay Mama said...

I came over from Robyn's blog. What an inspiring account of three real heroes! So glad you shared this, and I'll be looking for the Reader's Digest article, too!

LadyFi said...

What an amazing story of compassion and bravery!

Azure Islands Designs said...

Hello...came over from Robynn's blog...wonderful story of three hero's...I too will be looking for the Reader's Digest!
Cheers