It was a beautiful, remarkably mild night in April. Georges Miller, 39 was sitting behind the wheel of his semi. This Teamsters Local Union 1999 member works for Robert Transport, and, since he began his career as a truck driver, he’s seen just about everything on the road. However, nothing could have prepared him for what was about to unfold before his very eyes that night.
On the night of April 10, 2017, Mr. Miller was driving from Quebec City along Highway 30 heading towards Toronto to make a delivery, when he spotted two headlights on his side of the highway. Now, these headlights should have been on the other side of the divided highway’s median, but, in this case, they were heading straight into oncoming traffic.
In other words, a head-on collision was imminent.
“I immediately slowed down to 50 km/h. I wasn’t sure if the car was on my side of the divided highway (westbound) or on the other side (eastbound),” explained Mr. Miller. “It’s hard to see and distinguish from so far away at midnight.”
But as the car kept coming closer, it became obvious that it was going to crash into the cars heading west.
Then, out of the corner of his eye, Mr. Miller noticed an SUV starting to pass on the left. The SUV was heading straight towards the car.
“I decided to bring my truck to a full stop on the shoulder of the road,” explained the truck driver. “I watched the entire scene happen before my very eyes. It was like reading an 800-page novel in the space of a few seconds.”
By the time the driver of the SUV saw the car hurtling towards her, it was too late. She tried to change lanes to avoid the car. The driver of the car made the exact same move and the two vehicles were on course for a crash.
The inevitable happened: it was a brutal head-on collision.
Both vehicles were flung to either side of the highway. Then…. only the sound of screams coming from the SUV.
“I called for help and then got out of my truck and rushed towards the car. It was a horrible scene and I quickly came to the conclusion that there was no way anyone in the car had survived. So I ran to the SUV. I saw the driver banging on the windshield with her bare hands through the air bag.”
The distraught woman knew she was trapped in her vehicle. The doors were so mangled that no one could get out without smashing the windows. Motorists who stopped to help tried to break the windows, but to no avail. Mr. Miller went back to his truck and got a heavy tie-down bar that he used to free the passengers from the SUV.
Three of the four occupants of the SUV came out in a state of shock.
“I asked one of the passengers to stop moving because he was complaining of stomach pain. I chatted with them a bit to reassure them. Then some other motorists and I secured the premises as best as we could while waiting for help to arrive.”
After spending two hours explaining to provincial police officers what happened, the trucker continued on his way to Toronto to make his delivery and to meet up with his girlfriend, who is also a truck driver.
Some time later, the media announced that the driver of the SUV and everybody who was in the car had died. Insufficient road signage seems to be the cause of this head-on collision. The media also reported that a similar accident happened in the same location in 2015.
Fifty years ago, it was not uncommon to describe truckers as the knights of the highway. Georges Miller is one of these knights, as are all the other motorists who helped the survivors.
Despite the dangers of stepping onto a highway at night and the horrible images that Mr. Miller will never forget, this Teamsters member did not hesitate to risk his life to save others.
Today, we salute Mr. Miller’s courage.
By Stéphane Lacroix