A trucker was at the right place at the right time to become a hero when he rescued a utility worker who was trapped in a raised bucket truck, which had caught fire below. Efrain Zepeda was sitting in Santa Rosa, California’s traffic at about 9 a.m. . Sgt. Bill Harm of the California Highway Patrol knock on the passenger side door of his tractor-trailer and asked if he’d be willing to pull his rig out of traffic and alongside a utility bucket truck that was on fire.
Harm explained the truck’s operator was in the extended bucket above the street and the fire had killed the bucket’s controls. The only way down was for Zepeda to pull alongside the burning truck and position the trailer so the stranded worker could jump onto it to safety. “I didn’t have to think about it said,” Zepeda. “I told him, ‘Let’s do it.'” Sgt. Harm got other drivers to move out of the way and Zepeda pulled out of traffic and eased up directly next to the bucket truck that was totally engulfed in flames. He said he kept one eye on Sgt. Harm and the other on the flames, which were perilously close to his right side fuel tank.
The bucket truck operator jumped to safety and Sgt. Harm signaled Zepeda to move ahead. Shortly after he did, the utility truck exploded and the extended bucket collapsed into the street. A coworker brought a ladder for the utility worker to climb off Zepeda’s trailer. The rescue took about 10 minutes, but it seemed forever as it unfolded, Zepeda said. “The guy came to thank me,” said Zepeda. “I could see he was really scared but he was really grateful too.”
Zepeda has been driving for Estes Express Lines professionally for about two and a half years and they praised him for his quick acting heroics. “It is nothing short of a miracle that our driver, Efrain, was there just as this individual needed rescue from such a dire situation,” said Webb Estes, the company’s vice president of process improvement. “Enough can’t be said about the quick thinking by the police to request Efrain’s assistance and his bravery and immediate actions that allowed the worker to escape without serious injury by jumping onto our trailer. At Estes, the safety of everyone on the road is our highest priority and Efrain’s heroics exemplify this to the fullest.”