Goodyear has announced the finalists of its 24th annual North America Highway Hero Award: Elizabeth Pavlista of Miami, AZ; Edward Regener of Perres, CA; Richard Miner of Phoenix; and Marlon Marum of Burnsville, MN.

“Lives were saved this year because of the actions of these three men and this woman. We are indebted to truck drivers across the United States and Canada who keep America rolling and who are there for us in a time of need,” said Steve McClellan, vp for commercial tire systems for The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company.

Journalists from the trucking industry are now voting on the four finalists, who will be introduced March 22 at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, KY. One driver will be named the 2006 Goodyear North America Highway Hero and receive a $10,000 U.S. Savings Bond, a plaque and a specially designed ring. The other finalists will receive a $5,000 U.S. Savings Bond and a plaque.

Elizabeth Pavlista, a driver for B.J. Cecil Trucking Inc., which is based in Claypool, AZ Pavlista, was traveling north on Route 177 near Kearney haulingher daily load of rock on an end-dump truck, AZ when a car passed her, lost control, hit a guardrail and rolled down an embankment.

Pavlista said she immediately grabbed a fire extinguisher, yelled for an elderly man to assist her, and ran to where the car rested upside down and on fire.

Pavlista struggled to pull a large woman from the burning car. She helped the man operate the fire extinguisher. Just as the car fuel tank exploded, they managed to pull the woman farther from the flames.

Pavlista stayed with the woman, despite the intense heat coming from the blaze. State police from nearby Globe, AZ., and firefighters arrived, and Pavlista was told to move her truck away from the rising flames.

The woman was airlifted by helicopter, but news reports said she later died. Pavlista, who drives by the spot everyday, said she’s constantly reminded of that day and feels sad that the woman succumbed to her injuries.

Edward Regener, a driver for FedEx Freight based in Fontana, CA, saved the lives of three men in a three-vehicle collision on I-10 near Goodyear, AZ.

The accident was triggered when a car traveling westbound lost control, crossed the median and continued in the eastbound lanes.

The car collided with a pickup truck with such force that the two vehicles struck Regener’s truck, which was carrying hazardous,corrosive materials.

Fire erupted in the pickup truck and in the cab and first trailer of the truck. Regener’s shipment accelerated the fire and made the smoke increasingly toxic. Regener immediately worked to remove two men from the car and a man and woman from the pickup truck before the fire spread further.

One police officer said Regener was crucial in helping him remove the large male pickup driver and away from the flames. Regener was later transported to the hospital for smoke inhalation. A passenger in the pickup truck later died from her injuries.

Richard Miner, a driver for Saia Motor Freight based in Duluth, GA, saved a young woman’s life when he was traveling east on I-10 near Phoenix. Miner was following another tractor-trailer and car when the truck pulled into the passing lane and forced the car into the median. The car rolled several times and landed upside down. Miner was the only person to stop to offer assistance.

The woman was trapped in her car: the roof of the car had collapsed onto the seats, and the doors were jammed closed. The truck driver returned to his cab and called for help. When he saw flames coming from the rear of the car, Miner ran back to the car and used his fire extinguisher to put out the fire. He was able to pry open the car door and pull the woman to safety.

He stayed with the severely injured woman for nearly 20 minutes, cradling her head and talking with her, until emergency crews arrived.

Marlon Marum, a driver for Con-way Freight out, of its Eagan, MN, terminal was making deliveries in downtown Minneapolis and witnessed a Metro Transit police officer under attack by a man who was attempting to wrest control of the officer’s stun gun and handgun.

Marum pulled to the curb and sounded his air horn to draw attention to the altercation. He then ran to help the officer, who was pinned to the ground by the suspect inside a glass bus shelter.

Marum, the officer and the suspect all received a shock when the suspect managed to discharge the stun gun, but Marum held on to the suspect. Finally, the officer was able to regain control of his weapons and the suspect.