Truck driver awarded for helping accident victims in winter storm

Photo of Veriha Trucking tractor-trailer with inset photo of driver Frank Martin.

Professional truck driver Frank Martin recently received an award for stopping to help a couple after their vehicle ran off an icy road and rolled down an embankment.

“Helping people out when they’re in trouble is more important than getting a load in on time.” – Frank Martin, Veriha Trucking

On December 10, 2019, Martin was heading through northern Wisconsin with a load bound for Duluth, Minnesota. Near the town of Bloomer, Wisconsin, he noticed a large four-door pickup truck losing traction and sliding from side to side across the southbound lanes. It was the only vehicle on that side of the road.

“I think they hit an icy patch coming around the bend and couldn’t recover,” Martin told the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA). All he could do was watch as the driver lost control, hit the median, and skidded off the road.

“He went tail-end over front-end and when he got to the bottom of the ravine he then went side-over-side,” Martin said. “I pulled over and called 911 as I was running across the road.” When he reached the vehicle, it was lying on its passenger side. There was a middle-aged couple inside. They were conscious, and their seat belts were still fastened.

According to National Weather Service (NWS) records, temperatures were bitterly cold that day, starting below zero in the morning and only peaking in the single digits that afternoon. Snow from the day before had iced over parts of the road. But none of this stopped Martin from climbing onto the driver’s side and opening the door. The driver was pressed up against the passenger, pinning her against the passenger door.

Frank Martin/Veriha Trucking

“His seat belt was jammed and we couldn’t get the latch to release,” Martin added. “I asked if they were hurt or bleeding but they thought they were okay. I could tell they were scared.”

He ran back to his truck and grabbed a blanket. He then handed it down into the pick-up so the couple could stay as warm as possible. Martin was able to help the driver lift himself off the passenger a bit, which helped to calm her. Martin said emergency vehicles arrived 25 to 30 minutes later.

Martin is from Menominee, Michigan, and drives for Veriha Trucking, a Wisconsin-based carrier located about an hour north of Green Bay.

“I love trucking. My grandfather was a trucker. I’d go out with him as a kid and if he’d see a car broken down, or an accident, he’d stop to make sure everyone was okay. That left a big impression on me,” Martin said. “To me it’s still a brotherhood. There are a lot of good truckers out there and a lot of us want to make a difference. That’s a big part of why I stopped that day. Helping people out when they’re in trouble is more important than getting a load in on time. It’s the right thing to do. If it were my family, I’d want someone to stop.”

For his willingness to assist the accident victims, the TCA named Martin a Highway Angel and recently presented him with a certificate, patch, lapel pin and truck decals. TCA also gave his employer, Veriha Trucking, a certificate acknowledging Martin as a Highway Angel. 

Since the program’s inception in August 1997, more than 1,250 professional truck drivers have been recognized as Highway Angels for the exemplary kindness, courtesy, and courage they have displayed while on the job. EpicVue sponsors TCA’s Highway Angel program.