Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. D.L. Wilson and Temple resident Robert Sneed were honored Aug. 31 in Austin with a FedEx Heroism Award for helping save the life of Wallace Altom on March 10.
Altom was driving on northbound Interstate 35 in Temple when the FedEx truck he drove crashed into a concrete barrier and retaining wall before bursting into flames. Wilson and Sneed pulled Altom clear of the blaze.
Wilson was driving behind the FedEx truck when the accident happened. He saw the cab become a fireball, but he couldn’t get near it because of the extreme heat. Then he saw a man crawl out from underneath the fire, he said.
He tried to pull Altom clear of the flames and heat, but he couldn’t on his own, Wilson said. Then he looked up as a man scaled a 7-foot wall, jump down and run to help him. That was Sneed.
Together, the two men pulled Altom clear of the inferno.
“I was very appreciative to be honored with this prestigious award. I was just doing my job that I am trained for,” Wilson said Tuesday. “I am more proud we have citizens like Mr. Sneed that will come to the aid of others in need.”
Sneed, who heard the accident, jumped into his Jeep 4x4 and drove through a mud-filled construction area, knocked down barricades, drove up a bridge under construction and climbed a wall to get to the truck’s wreckage, he said.
Sneed shared his feelings about the rescue with a Telegram reporter soon after it occurred.
“I just wish people would take responsibility for the well being of others,” Sneed said. “It was strange that I had a discussion with my son the night before about doing what is right and leaving a good legacy behind when you go. Ten hours later, I was facing one of those life-altering moments in the eyes.”