Daniel Sieczkarski couldn’t hold back the tears.
Sitting in the audience at the Truckload Carriers Association’s Highway Angel ceremony on March 27 in Nashville, Tenn., the OOIDA member became emotional when the video footage of him rescuing a fellow truck driver from raging floodwaters appeared.
“When they started showing the footage of the floods, my heart started racing a thousand beats a second,” Sieczkarski said. “When they started to show the clip of the actual water rescue, I started to cry a little bit. It was very emotional.”
Sieczkarski, who works for Melton Truck Lines out of Tulsa, Okla., received the TCA and EpicVue 2016 Highway Angel of the Year award.
In April 2016, Sieczkarski and several others discovered truck driver Ronald Bumpus trapped in his truck as the floodwaters continued to rise in Brookshire, Texas. Rainfall totals reached 20 inches near Houston that day.
Even so, Sieczkarski volunteered to go into the waters to rescue Bumpus, a 66-year-old trucker who couldn’t swim. Sieczkarski put on a life jacket and attached it to a 300-foot air hose. Sieczkarski and Bumpus went under water a couple of times before they were pulled to shore.
“Daniel put another man’s life before his own,” said Lance Platt, CEO of EpicVue. “If he had not acted so quickly, the outcome could have been very different. My company considers it a privilege to be able to recognize and honor amazing professional truck drivers like him, which is why we love sponsoring this program.”
Sieczkarski said he and Bumpus are now friends. He also tried to garner support for Bumpus to offset the costs of the loss of his tractor-trailer.
“We talk about every other week,” Sieczkarski said. “We check in to find out how the other is doing.”
The video, which was released by The Weather Channel, garnered quite a bit of attention. Sieczkarski and the others involved in the rescue were dubbed “Good Samaritans,” and Sieczkarski’s face could be seen on such shows as Good Morning America.
As part of the Highway Angel of the Year award, Sieczkarski received a trophy, as well as a complimentary EpicVue satellite TV package that includes a 24-inch flat screen TV, a DVR and a one-year subscription to DIRECTV, which includes such premium channels as HBO and Showtime and the NFL Sunday Ticket.
Nashville recording artist Lindsay Lawler sang “Highway Angel” at the ceremony.
Sieczkarski said he never expected all of the attention.
“I never thought any of this would be happening to me,” he said. “This is all new to me.
“I want to thank the people who recorded the rescue. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am right now.”
Mark Schremmer, staff writer, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant sports editor at The Joplin Globe, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and 16 years of journalism experience to our staff. Mark is a graduate of Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, Kan.