Veteran truckie three times a hero
Melbourne driver Lew Rowe is the latest recipient of the Bridgestone Bandag Highway Guardian honour after saving yet another life
TRUCK DRIVER OF 45 YEARS LEW ROWE was honoured on October 17 with the coveted Bandag Highway Guardian award after saving a fellow driver from a truck fire, the third time he’s saved someone’s life on Australian roads.
The Linfox driver was recognised with the award at the Castrol Vecton Awards Dinner in Melbourne and commended for helping the driver of a rolled truck to escape as it caught fire.
Lew was at a standstill for a separate incident near Holbrook on his run from Melbourne to Tarcutta on the night of September 25 when another truck collided with a car behind him, rolled on its side and came to a stop alongside his B-double.
Without delay, Lew began using his fire extinguisher to suppress flames and helped the driver out from behind the wheel and through the broken windscreen as the truck fire intensified.
Lew was also commended for moving his truck out of harm’s way after helping the driver escape, ensuring the fire did not spread and become a multi-truck blaze.
He was humble in his acceptance speech and insists he only did what any of his fellow drivers would do. However, a message from Lew’s wife Leonie, which was read out during the presentation, told of his heroism in saving lives over the years.
“Two I can recall is when he dived into a river and rescued a woman and one of her children from a car that had gone off a bridge. He resuscitated them both and saved their lives. He was honoured with a bravery award by the Queensland Police but never collected it,” Leonie wrote.
“Another time a motorbike rider was thrown from his bike after hitting a truck. Lew immediately went to his rescue. He had lost part of his leg and had to use a rope as tourniquet to prevent him bleeding to death.
“The ambulance drivers thanked him for his efforts and said he saved his life. He seems to just know what to do and does it.
“So it’s so special that he has finally been recognised for his ability to help anyone in need, especially when it comes to saving lives and also considering his company’s vehicles. He has worked in transport for 45 years and has only has three days off due to the flu.
He is a proud driver and respects his company and their trucks. I am disabled and Lew is my carer during the day if I need him. Nothing is ever a problem for him.”
Lew told Owner//Driver he’d do it all again if he had to and hopes the younger generation coming through will act fast out on the roads.
“If it was me I’d like someone to do it for me,” Lew says.
“I’d do it without a doubt again. “The trouble is, you don’t know what the younger generation is like now – I hope they help,” he explains when discussing how quickly this generation is to pull out their phones to film.
“You gotta act quick, we knew that truck was going to go up in flames.”
Leonie reminds us that Lew only had three days off work in 45 years, a work ethic that’d put most of us to shame.
“He was once pinned between a forklift and truck and went back to work the moment they let him leave hospital,” she laughs.
ATA chair Geoff Crouch says Lew demonstrates the selflessness and bravery of the transport industry and the individuals within it.
“Lewis Rowe is a worthy recipient of the Bridgestone Bandag Highway Guardian accolade. He was selfless in the way he came to a fellow driver’s aid and without his intervention, it could have been a much more catastrophic outcome,” he says.
“We are constantly reminded with accidents like this how dangerous our roads are, but the Bridgestone Bandag Highway Guardian also demonstrates how amazing individuals in our industry step up and go beyond the call of duty when faced with adversity and danger.”
Lew’s nomination for the award was accompanied by glowing endorsements from police officers who attended the scene, his manager, Dennis Spirovski, and president of Intermodal Linfox, Ian Strachan, describing him as an exemplary employee.
Bridgestone Australia and New Zealand managing director, Stephen Roche, agrees that Lew should be acknowledged as a hero.
“The Bridgestone Bandag Highway Guardian award recognises regular truck drivers who do extraordinary things, and Lewis Rowe certainly fits this bill,” he says.
“You can’t imagine what it would be like to face an overturned truck, about to erupt into flames, but Mr Rowe encountered just that and put the needs of a fellow driver above his own,” Stephen says.
“Actions like this deserve to be acknowledged and we take great pride in partnering with the Australian Trucking Association and highlighting those in the trucking community who go above and beyond in helping others.”
Lew Rowe accepts his Highway Guardian award from Bridgestone Australia national commercial manager Geoff May