Trucker who rescued 4-year-old in traffic: ‘I was lucky’
11/27/2011 - 2:44:05 pm
“I was lucky to be at the right place at the right time,” Barton said. “Nothing I did was courageous, and certainly not heroic.”
In reality, several passing motorists hadn’t stopped to help the boy, which set the stage for the truck driver’s heroics.
According to several media reports, the boy had walked away from his aunt’s Eltopia, WA, home Tuesday, Nov. 15, crawled under a barbed-wire fence, and entered the highway.
From there he crossed four lanes of traffic on U.S. 395, which brought several cars to a screeching halt.
Barton noticed the boy running as he headed south on Highway 395 at 2 p.m. near Eltopia. Barton said he opened his truck door and waved the boy over. The boy came over, and Barton picked him up and put him in the truck.
“For whatever reason, the boy immediately trusted me,” Barton said in comments he emailed to Land Line Magazine. “That was the key to his rescue. If he hadn’t, I would have jumped out and chased him, which would probably have just traumatized him more.”
Within seconds, car and truck traffic resumed driving, and Barton dialed 911. The boy spoke Spanish, so Barton called his company’s bilingual fleet manager to translate.
The boy reportedly left his aunt’s house while she showered.
Steve Benninghoff is COO of Pomona, CA-based KKW Trucking, Inc., and Barton’s employer.
Benninghoff said the company was proud of Barton.
“We’re awfully proud of him. It takes a lot of courage to get involved,” Benninghoff told Land Line Magazine. “It’s certainly nice to see not only Dan, but his peers get some positive press and recognition that they deserve for helping others during events like this. They happen more frequently than people know.”
Barton will be nominated by the company for several truck driver hero contests, Benninghoff said. Barton’s actions, he said, not only rescued the boy but also helped bring some positive news about truckers to much of the country this week.
“I’ve got four or five emails this morning from people that had read about the events in the newspaper and are thanking the driver,” Benninghoff said. “It’s really nice to see. Most drivers don’t get the recognition they deserve.”
For his part, Barton said he’s glad no one was hurt. Barton said he was glad it didn’t take long for the boy to be reunited with his family.
“As far as I’m concerned, the real story is about the boy,” Barton said. “I’ just happened to be the guy who was there when he needed help.”
By Charlie Morasch, Land Line Magazine staff writer