Goodyear Highway Heroes forge special bonds from rescues

News Goodyear September 02, 2005
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Truck driver Kenneth L. Bass vividly remembers the chilly night he rescued a man who had accidentally driven off a bridge into a fast-flowing river.

Bass, a 1990 Goodyear Highway Hero, knows that had he arrived at the bridge just a few seconds later, he would have missed the man’s sinking car in the river. “All I saw was a splash in the water,” Bass said.
The rescue was life changing, but it’s their enduring friendship that means the most. Bass and Tim Powell visit each other in their homes and go water skiing and hunting together. They even bought a fishing boat together.

“This goes deeper than most of my friendships,” said Bass, who drives a tractor pulling a drop-deck trailer for Triple B Services, a Milton, Fla., construction hauling company started by his father. “It has a different meaning.”

Powell said, “I wouldn’t be alive without him. It’s hard to describe what that means to me.”

Bass’ heroism was rewarded when he was honored as the Goodyear 1990 North American Highway Hero. He joined an illustrious group of truck drivers who have risked their lives to save others. More than 20 truck drivers have been honored since Goodyear began sponsoring the program in 1983.

In contrast to Bass’ experience, Goodyear 2004 Highway Hero, Rick Dent, knows little about the family he saved from drowning. Survivor Bob Strickland wrote a letter to Dent’s employer praising Dent for his heroism, but Dent hasn’t been able to locate Strickland and his family.

“Goodyear has done an extensive search and the Ellen DeGeneres show has searched for them,” Dent said. “I’ve done radio interviews hoping they’ll contact me. I’m not going to give up though.”

Steve McClellan, Goodyear’s vice president for commercial tire systems, said, “Honoring those who put their lives on the line to help others is at the heart of the Goodyear North American Highway Hero program. As we’ve heard from past nominees, lifelong friendships are often made. There is a special bond that exists.”

McClellan asked for the public’s help in finding professional truck drivers who set aside their own personal safety to help others on the road. Nominations will be accepted through Nov. 30, 2005.

Nomination forms and program details may be obtained by calling the Goodyear Highway Hero Hotline at 330-796-8183 or online at

Goodyear commercial tire systems offer complete products and services to the trucking industry, including a full range of original equipment and replacement tires. In addition, the company’s cradle-to-grave tire and service network includes retreading, tire management tools and business solutions for tomorrow’s trucking fleets.

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