Delays and a choice put Dawna Jacobsen on a road to help save a 12-year-old boy’s life in Northern Ontario.
The Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) has named the longhaul driver who pulls freight for Erb Transport a Highway Angel for stopping to help the boy who drove his snowmobile across the highway and was hit by a vehicle.
“I believe God spared his life,” the driver from Winnipeg told TruckNews.com.
On Dec. 15, 2022, around 6 p.m., Jacobsen was driving on Highway 11 in Northern Ontario, just west of Kapuskasing. “I always take Highway 17, that day I took Highway 11, which is not normal for me,” she says. “A few other things happened that delayed me. I had intended to leave an hour earlier from the Flying J at Kapuskasing. I had to wait for a shower, and there was a lineup for fuel.”
Within 15 minutes of leaving the truck stop, the incident unfolded.
Observing a pickup truck at a stop sign on her right, appearing ready to merge onto the highway, Jacobsen slowed down “because a lot of times I see vehicles wanting to race the train so to speak, and get in front of us.”
The vehicle did not move in, and she proceeded through the dark. And seeing a shine from something that didn’t look like vehicle lights made her slow even more.
“I knew the person was no longer on the snowmobile.”
Dawna Jacobsen, Erb Transport driver
“I saw a large object, thought it was a box, coming toward me. I moved to the shoulder and got out of the way. In my mirror I saw it was a snowmobile. I stopped and put my flashers on because I knew the person was no longer on the snowmobile,” she said.
She grabbed her phone and dialled 911. And in her mirror she saw two men who had stopped their vehicles to tend to the injured person – a 12-year-old boy.
“When I looked over, his legs were not straight. They looked mangled.”.
Jacobsen communicated with emergency responders, answering questions and relaying information. The ambulance arrived within 15 minutes.
It turned out the boy and several of his friends were traveling together on the sleds. The others had crossed the highway, but he didn’t make it across in time. He was hit by a car.
Jacobsen says the highway was busy with traffic in both directions, and the dashcam footage she provided to police showed that slowing down and stopping were the right steps. Another southbound truck driver, seeing her stopped vehicle, was also able to stop before running over the young snowmobiler.
“If I did not avoid the snowmobile, that could have ricocheted on to the boy. Who knows,” Jacobsen says.
Later reviewing the dashcam footage himself, Erb senior director of safety and compliance Tom Boehler confirmed that she did the right thing. If she had not moved to the right, the oncoming truck would have driven over the boy, he said in a news release. Other traffic stopped as well.
“We are grateful and honored to have a professional and alert driver like Dawna on our team,” said Sheldon Wheeler, a spokesperson for Erb Transport. “Her ability to recognize potential danger and to react appropriately helped save a young boy’s life.”
The TCA recognizes truck drivers as Highway Angels for displaying exemplary kindness, courtesy, and courage displayed while on the job.
Jacobsen, who helped raise three children, said she felt very anxious for the injured boy and was keen to get an update on his condition. Some time later she took Highway 11 again and asked around at the Kapuskasing Flying J. Nobody seemed to know what happened to the boy, though.
“I really wish I could have sent a get-well card to the boy and his family,” she says.