An act of classic kindness

Jill Harmacinski, The Eagle-Tribune, North Andover, Mass.
·3 min read

Apr. 28—LAWRENCE — Truck drivers William Byron and Dawaylon Harris only spent a few minutes in Lawrence last weekend. However, their kindness left a lasting impression on Danielle Vigneault and led to them to receive praise from the company for which they work.

Late Sunday morning, Vigneault, of Methuen, was driving south on Interstate 495, heading to meet friends at the Lawrence Municipal Airport.

Suddenly there was crash involving an antique car just ahead of her in the middle lane.

"The old, classic robin's egg blue Plymouth" was banged up pretty badly, she said. So Vigneault slowly drove alongside the mangled car, checked on the driver who was not seriously injured, then pulled to the side of the highway, flipped on her hazard lights and dialed 911 for state police.

Meanwhile, Byron and Harris took action of their own.

In a Budd Van Lines box truck, Byron was driving and Harris serving as his co-driver. When they approached the wreck, Byron positioned the van behind the antique car to protect the elderly driver from passing traffic.

"He pulled the box truck right up and blocked the middle lane," said Vigneault, who was immediately impressed by the move.

"I said, 'That's so awesome,'" describing the effort as one of "an outstanding human and outstanding citizen."

In the hours after the crash, Vigneault set out to find out who the truck driver was so he could be publicly recognized and thanked. She posted about the crash on Facebook and reached out to The Eagle-Tribune.

"It's nice to see someone react in such a compassionate way," she said.

Enter Gary Grund, Budd Van Lines senior vice president based in New Jersey.

Contacted by an Eagle-Tribune reporter, Grund was pleased to hear about the heroic effort. Using the company's GPS software, he was able to pinpoint what drivers were in the Merrimack Valley late Sunday morning: Byron and Harris.

The duo stopped to safeguard the driver on the highway, and they also gave state police video from their truck of the crash unfolding.

A speeding car, possibly a red Mazda, was also involved in the crash and left the scene, according to state police.

The driver of the classic car, a 1956 Plymouth Belvedere, was an 82-year-old Andover man. State police did not release his name but said he was not seriously injured.

Byron, who spoke with the man at the accident scene and then called to check up on him later Sunday night, said the man suffered a broken hand, Grund said.

"They exchanged numbers and William called him later," Grund said.

Grund said other company drivers have exhibited similar kindness, including one employee who pulled an entire family out of an overturned car in Colorado.

On Wednesday morning, Grund awarded Byron and Harris with $100 Amazon gift cards.

Byron declined an interview for this story, instead asking Grund to pass along the details.

"I was just doing what I am supposed to do," Byron told Grund.

Vigneault, meanwhile, said she was sending along "virtual hugs."

"It brings my faith back in humanity," she said.

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill.