Wrecker driver honored for being a hero
Published: July 14, 2008 | 7200th good news item since 2003
An East County wrecker driver was the last person and only civilian honored for his heroism this week after he and four law enforcement members rescued a man from a burning 18-wheeler after a multi-vehicle pileup on U.S. 59 in November.
The Texas Department of Public Safety presented Timothy “T.J.” Knox with the Director’s Award, signed by DPS Colonel Thomas A. Davis Jr., in New Caney at the office of Precinct 4 Commissioner Ed Rinehart.
Knox was nominated for the award by Trooper Paul Kohleffel, who was also a part of the Nov. 26, 2007 rescue effort. In his letter of nomination, Kohleffel detailed how he and Knox forced open the damaged door of the 18-wheeler and freed the trapped and unconscious driver as flames spread toward the cab of the truck.
“Had it not been for Mr. Knox’s personal disregard for his own safety, I have no doubt that Mr. Bailey would not have survived the accident on that day,” the letter states.
Captain Patrick Mulligan presented the award to Knox, whose children, Dalton and Kaitlyn, and his fiancé, Casey Lawson, looked on.
DPS Sgt. Donald Nance said the award was an excellent opportunity for the agency to recognize a citizen for his assistance.
“(Knox) can’t be repaid by money for his actions, but he’s been recognized by the department and is looked up to as a hero,” Nance said.
DPS Lt. Terry Truitt said the situation was unusual in his experience.
“This is the first incident I’ve been close to when a citizen risked his life in that way,” Truitt said.
He was proud of Knox’s actions and Kohleffel’s, as well.
“We don’t want them to put themselves in unnecessary peril, but sometimes they do in order to get the job done,” Truitt said.
Kohleffel received the DPS Director’s Citation for his heroism.
Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Cpl. Rowdy Hayden, Deputy Justin Hamilton and Deputy Duane LeBeau were recognized earlier this month by the Houston/Harris County 100 Club for their role in the rescue.