Vet­eran truckie three times a hero

Owner Driver - - The Goods - – Cobey Bar­tels

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

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