The Truckload Carriers Assn. (TCA) will honor its fifth Highway Angel of the Year — Kenny Cass, a driver development instructor for FedEx Freight of Portland, OR — in front of thousands of fans at the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on Dec. 15 at 2:30 p.m. MST at Bronco Stadium in Boise, Idaho. The game will be televised on ESPN.

Each year TCA chooses one driver who best embodies the spirit of the organization’s Highway Angel program. As Cass is honored before the 34,000-person audience, the event will spotlight not only the Highway Angel program, but promote the trucking industry in general. The publicity will do much to further TCA’s goal of educating the general public about the good deeds that professional truck drivers do every day in the course of their jobs, the organization said.

“Each year, we receive several Angel nominations that share a common thread: the Angel is either the only person who stops to help, or is one of just a few people,” said Scott Moscrip, president of Internet Truckstop, the Highway Angel program sponsor. “We in the industry are aware of the trend — and this type of high-profile recognition for people like Cass helps the general public see it, too. The trucking industry has heart, that’s for sure.”

Following is the 2012 Highway Angel of the Year’s story:

On Mar. 22, 2012, at approximately 8:10 p.m., Cass was driving along Martin Luther King Blvd. in Portland when he witnessed a pickup truck rear end a tractor-trailer and become wedged up to its windshield under the semi.

Cass immediately called 911, turned on his flashers, and placed his vehicle behind the crash to warn oncoming traffic. The trucker then approached the pickup and found the bloody and disoriented driver still alive, wearing his seatbelt, and — unbelievably — talking on his cell phone. Cass told him to remain still and wait for help to arrive.

Cass then checked on the driver of the tractor-trailer and found her to be okay, but also disoriented. Cass, a professional driver-trainer, knew that her truck would be equipped with reflective triangles which he placed an appropriate distance from the wreck to warn oncoming traffic, which would be hurtling toward the wreck in the dark at 55 mph.

Cass then saw smoke billowing from beneath the pickup truck. Fearing a possible fire, he smashed the window and pulled the driver out. He got the man to sit in a safe place nearby and rushed back to the driver of the tractor-trailer, got her out of her vehicle, and grabbed the fire extinguisher from her truck.

Meanwhile — apparently still in shock — the man ran toward oncoming traffic. Cass stopped him and led him to safety and began applying bandages to the bleeding man until help arrived.

Cass tended to accident victims for 20 minutes before emergency responders showed up. Throughout the ordeal, no other motorists stopped to help Cass.

As the Highway Angel of the Year, Cass will be flown to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl for public recognition. After the audience hears the story, Cass will be presented with a trophy saluting his willingness to stop and help when no one else did.

“Although this incident highlights one extreme occurrence, I have noticed that Kenny shows this type of assertiveness to help and support everyone he comes in contact with,” said Mike Harris, Cass’ service center manager at the FedEx facility in Portland. “He is well respected by all of his colleagues and students and definitely thinks of others before himself. I am proud to have Kenny Cass on the Portland team.”

“Kenny Cass served our country in the U.S. Coast Guard for 24 years. Coming on the heels of Veterans Day, I want to first thank Kenny for his sacrifice and service to America,” said Robert Low, TCA’s chairman and the president and chief executive officer of Prime, Inc., Springfield, MO. “Kenny showed that his experience with the U.S. Coast Guard was used to keep calm and act quickly in this particularly stressful situation. I applaud the capable way he handled this event.  He is an outstanding example of the many terrific people we have working within the trucking industry and is a true Highway Angel.”

Since its inception in August 1997, the Highway Angel program has recognized hundreds of drivers for the unusual kindness, courtesy, and courage they have shown others while on the job. TCA has received letters and e-mails from people across North America nominating truck drivers for the program.

To learn more about the program or to nominate a driver, go to www.truckload.org/highway-angel  or visit the Highway Angel Facebook page at http://on.fb.me/tcanews. For additional information, contact TCA at (703) 838-1950 or angel@truckload.org.