Ian Fleury’s bosses think he’s a full-time truck driver moonlighting as a superhero.
The Canada Cartage driver has a knack for being at the right place at the right time whenever someone needs help. He has come to the aid of several people he’s encountered on the road in his 25-year career, but this past winter he found himself rescuing two separate drivers in as many weeks.
Ian’s most recent actions earned the Guelph, Ont. resident the title of the 2014 Bridgestone-OTA Truck Hero award, which was presented to him last night at the OTA Convention & Executive Conference at the Ritz Carlton in Toronto. The award recognizes a truck driver who has exhibited courageousness, selflessness and integrity in the face of an emergency.
“Bridgestone has been a proud sponsor of this award for over half a century and takes great pride in recognizing true Canadian heroes in the trucking industry,” said Jim West, Director, Commercial Tire Sales, Bridgestone Canada Inc., “Mr. Fleury’s inspiring actions make him extremely deserving of this award.”
This past March, the 25 year-trucking veteran was cruising along Highway 81 in the Poconos Mountains. Up ahead was another Canadian truck driver. Suddenly, a pickup truck merging onto the highway inexplicably veered into the other truck driver’s lane, causing a collision. The driver tried to maintain control, but his tractor-trailer overturned after both vehicles hit the guardrail. Ian approached the scene and pulled over to the side of the road. No other motorist stopped initially. Neither driver appeared severely injured. Inside the crumpled cab, however, the other truck driver was responsive, but visibly shaken.
“The passenger door was jammed shut so I ran back to my truck and grabbed a cell phone and load bar. I returned to the (crashed) truck and told the guy to watch out. Then I smashed the window,” Fleury recalls. He helped the driver climb out and applied a towel to some lacerations. He then called 911 and driver’s dispatch to explain what happened. Satisfied the fellow he saved was now safe, Ian got back on the road as emergency crews arrived. “I had a load to deliver.”
Less than two weeks later after his heroic actions in the Poconos, Ian was called upon by fate once again. He was crawling in traffic on Hwy 401 just after a snowstorm. Up ahead, he saw smoke rising. As he approached closer, he noticed smoke from the hood and flames emerging from underneath a stalled car. The driver was still inside.
Sensing the danger to other drivers who had nowhere to escape, Ian blocked two lanes to create a barrier and force traffic to the left lane furthest from the fire. He then got out of his truck and opened the door of the burning car. The driver, apparently unaware flames were sprawling from underneath his vehicle, climbed out at Ian’s command. As Ian walked the driver back to his truck, the car became completely engulfed and the tires blew out. By the time fire crews snaked their way through traffic, there was hardly anything left of the car. But everyone on the highway was unharmed.
“Honestly, I didn’t think what I did was that special,” he says. “I think I just did what anybody who would come across something like that would do – at least you would hope they would.”
It took a bit of convincing from company management, but Ian eventually agreed to be nominated for the Truck Hero award.
“He’s a gentle giant who always puts others first. We’d clone him if we could,” says Canada Cartage president Jeff Lindsay. “Ian always seems to put others first. He wears a baseball cap instead of a cape, but other than that, he’s Superman around here.”
David Bradley, president of the Ontario Trucking Association, said that when truckers are on the road across North America, they never know what situations they might find themselves in.
“Ian always appears ready to answer the call to lend a helping hand or come to the rescue of someone in need. It takes a special person to put themselves at risk for the sake of strangers. OTA is proud to present this award to such an extraordinary driver. He does the industry proud.”