ARLINGTON, VA - When Werner Enterprises truck driver Dave Nelson decided to help a stranded motorist on Feb. 10, he saved the life of a seven-year-old girl.
Vicki Carter and her mother, Pam, were traveling along I-20 near Birmingham, Ala., on the way to pick up father and husband Air Force Capt. Ryan Carter in Texas when their car ran off the road and hit a sign. Pam jumped out of the car and tried to flag down help for her daughter. Only Nelson stopped.
"She was literally out in the road," Nelson recalled. He moved Pam Carter to safety as she explained that her daughter was still in the car and needed help.
Vicki was not breathing and had no pulse. Nelson asked permission from her mother to begin CPR, then swiftly pulled Vicki from the car and laid her on the ground on top of his coat. While performing the lifesaving steps, Nelson conversed with Pam Carter to keep her calm. He learned that Vicki had a heart murmur, just like his own daughter. Nelson performed CPR until paramedics arrived.
"It was so amazing to see this big trucker hold my little girl and do CPR. He kept me calm the whole time and the kindness he showed me really kept me together," Pam recalled.
"It seemed like forever," Nelson said, "but they told me it was only about five minutes." Once Vicki was safe with the rescue squad, he continued on his route toward Dallas.
Meanwhile, Carter grew worried as he waited in Texas for his wife and daughter. He had not seen them in the last three years, while he was stationed in Iraq. "The main thing I looked forward to in coming home was my family, having my family complete," he said. He found out hours later that his daughter was in the hospital, and doctors told him that Vicki had survived only because of Nelson's heroic efforts.
That the truck driver intervened when others refused and saved the life of a child "was unreal," a member of the rescue squad told Carter, who now works as a police officer in Ohio.
The Carter family members contacted Werner Enterprises when they were back home near Columbus, Ohio, two days later to thank Nelson for his kindness.
"Werner Enterprises is proud of Dave Nelson's willingness to help others," said Greg Werner, Werner Enterprises' president and CEO. "His quick action and determination are very admirable and we couldn't be more proud to have him on our team."
Since then, the Carter and Nelson families have stayed in touch regularly. Vicki regularly texts the man she calls "Trucker Dave" and sends him pictures. Nelson has invited the Carter family to his home in Orlando to meet his wife and daughter, who will soon turn 12, and go to Disney World together.
"Dave Nelson is the reason my baby is alive," said Pam Carter. "He is a hero and a wonderful man whom we love and admire."