Texas trucker rescues elderly couple, named a Highway Hero

June 5 seemed like a regular day to Cleburne truck driver Robert “Wesley” Phillips.

The American Central Transport independent contractor trucker was en route to his final destination in Lawton, Okla., when the day suddenly took a turn.

Traveling along U.S. 72 near Walnut, Miss., Phillips slowed his tractor-trailer down as heavy rain began to fall and restrict his visibility.

It was about 3:15 p.m. when Phillips said he saw driver about a quarter of a mile ahead fail to turn into a driveway. He watched as the car clipped the edge of the driveway, flipped and fell about five feet where it came to a rest in a ditch.

Phillips said he was already on the phone with emergency personnel before he was able to turn around to assist the elderly couple in the car. He said other truckers, apparently unaware of why Phillips had stopped his truck, were angrily honking and speeding past the scene.

“It was just one of those things that, I don’t want to say I was in the right place at the right time, but with it raining like it was, you really couldn’t see,” Phillips said. “The only reason I knew the car was down there is because I watched it flip. If you weren’t paying attention, you wouldn’t have seen it.”

Phillips said he met up with others on scene, one of whom had a crowbar to help pry open the car doors. They were able to get to the 81-year-old man first, who seemed shaken up, but OK. The man’s wife, who was the driver, was unresponsive.

Phillips and another good Samaritan helped cut the man out of his seat belt and get him to safety. Paramedics arrived soon after to remove the woman from the car. Phillips, who is a former volunteer firefighter, was asked to assist with opening the vehicle up for her safe exit.

“I did what I felt that any human person should have done anyway and did the best that I could,” Phillips said. “I can’t take 100 percent of the credit because I wasn’t the only one there.”

For his efforts, Phillips was named a Highway Hero by ACT. He was also named a Highway Angel by the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) and given a lapel pin, certificate and patch.

A post on the ACT Facebook page has been shared about 40,000 times and reached almost 16 million people.

“It went viral,” Phillips said. “The attention has got me kind of buzzed a little bit. It’s kind of unreal that something like this went as far as it did.”

Phillips’ wife, Belinda Phillips, said she’s not surprised that her husband stopped to help out.

“I was just like, ‘That’s the person you are, you’ve always been that way,'” Belinda Phillips said. “I said, ‘You did what most people wouldn’t do, because if that was the case, most people would have stopped.’ He’s always been a real caring person, warm hearted and everything.”

TCA’s Highway Angel program is sponsored by Internet Truckstop. Since its inception in 1997, hundreds of truck drivers have been recognized for their acts of selflessness on the job.