For Frank Vieria, saving a life – or two – is just part of a day’s work.
Vieria, a tanker driver for the Tandet group’s Connell Transport, was just about to deliver his load to a customer in downtown Toronto last year when he heard a loud crash behind his left shoulder. He saw that a passenger car had rear-ended a roll-off truck in the opposite lane and one of the truck’s overhanging steel beams had gone through the front windshield. He quickly pulled his truck to the side of the two-lane road and leapt out to assist.
When he approached the driver’s side of the car, Frank noticed part of the broken steering column had pierced the driver’s throat.
“He was bleeding profusely,” Vieria recalls. “There was blood all over him and in the car. He was in shock and it looked like he was losing consciousness.”
Frank instinctually pried open the car door and maneuvered his arm and hands underneath the penetrating steel beam. He immediately applied pressure on the open wound to try and stop the flow of blood. “I remember my arm, all the way up to my elbow was covered in blood.”
With his free hand, Frank dialed 9-11 and spoke to an emergency services operator. All of a sudden, someone approached him from behind. Frank turned around to see it was the driver of the roll-off truck; but once the man caught a glimpse of the graphic scene inside the car he passed out and hit the pavement.
<Watch this video of Frank at the crash location, explaining how things unfolded in his own words>:
“So, with one hand I’m trying to stop the blood. With the other hand I’m on my cell phone trying to explain the situation to 9-11,” Vieria explains. “And then this other fellow comes out of nowhere and passes out right in front of me and I notice his leg and half of his body are on the other side of the yellow line. Cars from the oncoming lane are going down the hill and approaching pretty fast. I’m thinking … well, this can’t be good!
“There was a lot happening at the same time.”
While still applying as much force as he could on the wound of the injured man in the car and trying to explain to emergency services on the phone that a second man was now in need of attention, Frank used his leg to hook around the fallen man’s waist and pull him out of the way of oncoming traffic.
Paramedics arrived soon after and took over the scene. They thanked Frank for his efforts and asked him to move his truck. He got back in his truck and immediately delivered his load. “I asked my customer if I could wash my hands. Then I ate lunch shortly after and went on with my work day.”
Thankfully, because of Frank’s decisive actions, the man in the car was taken to hospital and survived. The truck driver was treated at the scene and quickly released.
For his selfless actions Frank Vieria was presented with the Bridgestone-Ontario Trucking Association Truck Hero Award at the OTA’s awards dinner gala in Toronto last night.
“Frank was extraordinary,” says Scott Tilley, president of the Tandet Group. “What he did was very brave and selfless, but it also exemplifies what we want to exhibit to the public that trucking is more than just driving a truck. We are very proud of him.”
In presenting Frank with the award, Jim Devlin, national feel account executive with Bridgestone Canada, added:
“All of us are captivated by heroic deeds, but not everyone has the capacity to rise to the occasion when disaster strikes. Frank stopped when no one else would. For his courageousness, selflessness and integrity in the face of an emergency Frank is truly deserving of this prestigious award.”