Twist of fate leads Highway Guardian to stranded traveller

Michael Thompson recognised for remote rescue in searing heat

Twist of fate leads Highway Guardian to stranded traveller
Michael Thompson


An outback road-train driver’s actions to save a man’s life in a remote location in near 50-degree heat has earned him the Australian Trucking Association’s (ATA’s) Bridgestone Bandag Highway Guardian accolade.

Lowes Petrolium’s Michael Thompson was en route to a fuel delivery to the Cordillo Downs Station, near the Queensland/South Australia border, when he came to the rescue of a severely dehydrated Terrence Stewart from Sydney.

The circumstances contributing to Thompson’s feat are made even more incredible with a decision to deliver the shipment of fuel a day early, and a last-minute route change because of weather, setting the course for his discovery of Stewart, the ATA explained.

Thompson first encountered Stewart’s car on the road into the station, with a note signalling his intention of walking the 30km to Cordillo.

After following foot tracks for 13km, Thompson discovered Stewart in a bad way off the road and promptly organised help by calling his wife on the satellite phone in order to facilitate assistance while he administered first aid.

With help from those on the station, he was transported by road to the station within an hour while the Royal Flying Doctor Service was dispatched and subsequently transferred to hospital for treatment.  

Thompson’s intervention has been credited with saving Stewart’s life, with Lowes Petroleum praising his knowledge to understand the danger of the situation and having the knowledge and skills to administer the required care, and applying initiative to dispatch the required emergency services.

Stewart said the pair have an undeniable bond following that day and is full of gratitude towards his rescuer.

"Michael saved my life, so it is a massive 'thank you'," Stewart said.

"He read my note left on the steering wheel, contacted Cordillo and advised them of the situation and drove towards Cordillo, he could not find me so he got out of his truck and started following my footprints till he found me.

"He put everything together to give me what I am enjoying today and that is life.

"In my mind, he was determined to find me and do the best he could to save me and I greatly appreciate all the things he has done.

"It is not just finding me, but he put all the bit in place to make sure I survived.

"I would like to think he is a family friend for life."

A look back at other Highway Guardian recipients, here

The Bridgestone Bandag Highway Guardian highlights truck drivers who have gone above and beyond when faced with adversity.

ATA chair David Smith said Thompson’s story highlights the importance truck drivers play in remote Australia.

"Truck drivers operating in the outback and on remote routes are vital for stations to receive the goods and services they require to operate, but Michael Thompson highlights the critical role that our industry plays in looking out for others on the roads as well," Smith said.

"Terrence was subjected to some of Australia’s harshest conditions through no fault of his own, but had there not have been a fuel delivery scheduled that week, it could have been a very different outcome.

"We’re fortunate to have people like Michael Thompson with the instincts to identify that something’s not right and who can apply the initiative to facilitate the assistance needed at that moment." 

Bridgestone Australia & New Zealand managing director Stephen Roche joined Smith in recognising Thompson’s initiative. 

"Recognising drivers like Michael Thompson as Bridgestone Bandag Highway Guardians is important to us because it highlights the incredible contribution they make to the community," Roche said. 

"Michael Thompson was selfless in his actions and went out of his way to come to the rescue of Terrence.

"We’re pleased to give him the very fitting acknowledgement as a Highway Guardian – he has definitely lived up to the title." 


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