Image of Royford Burris with Jim Ward, TCA Chairman and Kyle Hales, EpicVue's Vice President of Sales.

TCA Names Highway Angel of the Year

Stevens Transport Driver’s Quick Action Saved A Life

Trucking Association Honors Truck Driver Royford Burris

The Truckload Carriers Association named their “Highway Angel of the Year” at the association’s annual Truckload 2021 conference recently in Las Vegas. Of the 75 Highway Angels selected in for the 2020 calendar year, Royford Burris of Stevens Transport was recognized as the Highway Angel of the Year for his heroism as the first on the scene of a fiery crash. The crash involved multiple fatalities, but Burris’ actions helped to save a child trapped in one of the vehicles and return her to her father. While accepting the recognition, Burris said “This is a happy moment for me, always a sad moment, too. I believe in Good and God is who made everything possible…I’m glad I was there to do what I did….” Below is Royford’s firsthand account of the moments that forever changed him.

Recollection of Royford’s Response

At 7:30 p.m. on August 23, 2020, Royford Burris was traveling on U.S. Highway 63 in Arkansas, and was running early a day early on his load to Orlando, Florida. He had just gotten off of the phone with his wife to focus on completing his descent down the mountainous winding road when he saw two cars in the middle of the road, with one minute away from going up in flames.

“I had just told my wife that things were going well and the road was so calm when I rolled up on the accident,” Royford recalled. “Once I saw the cars, I knew that it was my duty to help in any way I could.”

Royford pulled his truck off to the side of the road and, with assistance from another motorist who stopped to help, used his fire extinguisher to help control the flames. Once those were suppressed, Royford worked with law enforcement to rescue those that were trapped in the other car, which included a mother and her three children.

“I had to break windows and doors in order to get them out,” Royford said. “It was a scary scene but was very thankful for the support and assistance I received from the multiple police officers to help rescue them from their car. I made sure to stay at the scene until everything was clear, and continued on my way to deliver my load.”

After driving about one mile down the road, two police cars appeared in Royford’s rear-view mirror and made him pull over to the side of the road. The police stepped out of their car and immediately started thanking him for his heroic actions.

“When I saw the lights flash, I thought that I had done something wrong. But once they started thanking me, I was very surprised and humbled. They even offered to give me a police escort to the nearest safe haven. Their gestures were unexpected but were very much appreciated. I accepted their offer for the escort and made my way to the safe haven, where I proceeded to call Stevens’ Safety department to explain everything that happened.”

Royford was grateful for the support that he received from everyone at Stevens and was highly praised by his coworkers for his heroic actions. “Royford is a great driver and this is just another example he sets,” Company Driver Manager Kenny Harwell said. “Not only is he a hardworking and driver father and grandfather, but he is also a hero. We are extremely thankful to Royford for setting the standards not only for his fellow drivers but for all of us at Stevens as well. He is a true asset to Stevens and I’m proud to work with him day in and day out!”

Royford reflected on the situation and knew that at the end of the day, it was just another part of his job. “A big part of our job is to protect the motoring public and this situation was no different. I was glad that I was able to help in any way that I could.”

Published November 2, 2021