Highway hero named Gr8 Acts of Kindness winner

Published: Feb. 22, 2023 at 10:50 PM CST
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - “This is the northbound lane and this is the southbound lane,” LaQuintez Tucker points out as he shows how lanes are re-routed on I-55 in Mississippi County.

Most people look to avoid trouble on the interstate; Tucker searches for it.

“You don’t need any water in there? You good man?” Tucker asks a truck driver whose rig is broken down on the shoulder of I-55.

Traveling I-55 near Burdette, Luxora and Blytheville, Tucker is a motorist assistance patrol truck driver for Delta, a road construction company. “It was a normal warm day,” Tucker said.

Last year, Tucker saw something that made his heart race. “I was seeing trucks swerving and I knew that ain’t right,” Tucker said.

A man was in the roadway, and Tucker was on the other side of the highway.

Hitting the gas, Tucker knew he had just minutes to save him.

“I grabbed him and said, ‘Are you ok?’ He’s like ‘I ran out of gas.’ I was like why are you in the middle of the interstate? He really couldn’t tell me. His phone was ringing and it was on the ground.”

A call that couldn’t have come at a better time. It was the man’s family.

“‘This is Tucker from Delta,’” and she was like, “Why do you have my uncle’s phone? ‘Well, he’s stuck on the side of the road and she was like where because I’m coming to get him. I said, “’Blytheville. She is like “‘where is that?’” “‘Arkansas.’” She just started crying because she thought he was in Kansas or Missouri.”

Turns out a Silver Alert had been issued for a Missouri man named, Charles Williams, who had been driving hundreds of miles away from his home.

“He thought he was working in Kansas City for the water department,” Tucker said. Williams was taken to a local hospital and reunited shortly after with his family.

“He went above and beyond,” Michael Shipley of Delta Companies, Inc. said. “And you don’t find that very often these days. You really don’t especially out here on the interstate jobs. Everybody’s really skeptical about stopping and helping.”

This husband and father said helping people just comes naturally. It was the way he was raised in the small town of Birdsong.

One motorist he helped was pregnant. She had a flat tire, no money, and needed to get back to Mississippi.

Tucker used his own money to take and get the tire repaired long after his shift was over. He even gave her money to reach her destination.

“So I went and got my debit card and took her tire and paid for her to get back on the road and some extra money to keep going,” Tucker said.

“It shows his integrity, you know, the character he demonstrates on a day-to-day basis,” Justin Counce of Delta Companies, Inc. said. “It’s very intimidating. You know you have multiple vehicles traveling at high rates of speed and for him to stop on one side of the interstate.”

So one morning when Tucker was driving his regular route, his supervisors asked him to make a special stop just for us... a surprise for this “highway hero.”

“You ready to roll?” I asked our team. “

“LaQuintez Tucker, they say and we know that you’re a highway hero,” I said. “And, you are the next winner in the Gr8 Acts of Kindness!”

“$300, $400,” I count the cash into Tucker’s hand. “$408!”

Tucker sees even more opportunities to help now.

“I was trying to get the kids down here a different choice than what’s going on with the gangs and stuff,” Tucker said. “So when they hired me, they gave me the opportunity to hire a couple more kids from my community that was just out here working for us.”

He is paying it forward as he moves to look for more people to help.