“In trucking there’s a brotherhood. We share an identity. When we pull into a customer and see a long lineup of trucks, we look for one of ‘us’. When we pull into a truck stop we scan the parking lot for one of ‘us’. We meet thousands of trucks on the road every day, but we wave when we see one of ‘us’. As I pull into the yard tonight I’m one of the last trucks off the road. I see the empty parking spaces of the trucks. One isn’t coming home tonight. One of ‘us’ isn’t coming home tonight.”
Those are a few of many memorable words by truck driver John Irish, a friendly acquaintance of fellow trucker Lindsay Findlay. Irish typed that entry into his Facebook page the night of Tuesday February 3, 2015. Just a few hours earlier, Findlay’s truck had crashed into a guard rail on Hwy. 401 near Whitby and flipped over on its side. Findlay was cut-off by an impaired driver, but rather than ensure his own safety by slamming the full force of his truck into the reckless driver’s car – likely causing a chain reaction that would send both vehicles dangerously into traffic – the veteran Arnprior, Ont. trucker was able to limit the impact with quick maneuvering and responsive braking before eventually losing control and hitting the guardrail. He died at the scene.
For his heroic actions, Findlay was recognized posthumously at the Ontario Trucking Association’s annual executive conference in downtown Toronto with the 2015 Bridgestone-OTA Truck Hero Award. Each year, OTA and Bridgestone Canada recognize a professional truck driver who has demonstrated courage, quick thinking and integrity in the face of an emergency. Findlay’s wife Sandy and his daughter Brittany were in Toronto last night to accept the award.
“We are very proud for what he did. We are proud he saved the other driver and possibly more drivers on the road that night,” says Sandy Findlay. “That was just his instinct to put people before himself.”
Added Derek Crosby, Findlay’s employer at D&J Transportation: “A more inexperienced driver would have done something different and perhaps more people would have been killed or seriously hurt. He was definitely a hero. Even without this, he was a hero.”
In the days after the crash Irish and dozens of other truck drivers rallied in the community of Arnprior to support the Findlay family, even organizing a massive truck convoy at his funeral – the lead truck carrying Lindsay’s casket to the church.
“I think he would have absolutely loved being sent off that way,” says his daughter, Brittany. “They all came together for him that day. It’s amazing that out of something so tragic could come something so beautiful.”
In presenting the award to the Lindsay family, Paul Dalcourt, national account executive, Bridgestone Canada, explained how the definition of a hero is “someone who sacrifices him or herself for the greater good.
“Lindsay and his family have certainly sacrificed a lot. This is the story of one truck driver who risked his life to put others before himself and his loving family who have since found inner strength from his heroic actions. We couldn’t be prouder to honour the Findlay family with this award.”
Said David Bradley, president of the Ontario Trucking Association. “Lindsay’s story is certainly tragic and shows us the catastrophic results of impaired driving. But it’s also a story about a resilient, loving family and the incredible truck drivers who rallied around one of their own. It’s stories like this that show how trucking is made up of passionate communities and is a dignified way of life only a truck driver can truly understand.”