Recent Amber Alert Reminds Truck Drivers of their Significant Role in Saving Lives

by Jana Ritter - Published: 8/09/2013

An Amber Alert was issued at 5 p.m. Monday for two missing children, Hannah Anderson, 16, and her brother, Ethan, 8. The California Highway Patrol's emergency notification and tactical alert center activated the amber alert shortly after the children were reported missing Sunday by their maternal grandparents. The alert has extended to Oregon and Washington after reports of possible sightings.

Amber alert

According to the CHP, Hannah Anderson and Ethan Anderson were abducted from the city of Boulevard on Saturday, and the suspect is believed to be headed toward either Texas or Canada, according to the CHP. Hannah, 16, is 5 feet 7, 115 pounds with blonde hair and blue eyes. She has a belly button ring, a nose stud and pierced ears. Ethan, 8, is 4 feet 11 and 65 pounds with sandy blonde hair. The suspect accused of abducting the two children is James Lee DiMaggio, 40, white and 5 feet, 9 inches and weighing 150 pounds with brown hair and eyes. He was last seen driving a four-door blue Nissan Versa, with a California license plate No. 6WCU986. Truck drivers can provide a significant service by being on high alert.

The driver of a moving truck told the CHP he saw a blue, four-door Nissan Versa headed north on I-5 as he was passing through Red Bluff. Then the Oregon state police said there was a possible sighting of James Lee DiMaggio's blue Nissan Versa in northeast California near Alturas on Wednesday, followed by another sighting about 50 miles North along the same highway near Lakeview, in south-central Oregon.

As amber alerts are issued for highway motorists to be on alert, truck drivers are key to locating abducted children and potentially saving lives. In fact, just last month two truck drivers saved the life of an 8-month-old baby that was abducted from Cuerco Texas. On July 4, 2013, Jessica Barraza, 35, allegedly entered the family home and took the baby from its playpen. Not long after the Amber Alert was issued, a truck driver who had stopped on the side of Highway 181, notified authorities that he had located the car that matched the Amber Alert description. Another truck driver at the scene took Barraza's keys to prevent her from fleeing before police arrived, arrested Barraza and returned the baby to its family.  

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, more than 260,000 children are abducted each year. When an Amber Alert is issued anywhere in the United States, a satellite message is sent to trucks in the area that are equipped with QUALCOMM. Using this information, truck drivers can be even more effective spotters from their vantage points high in the cabs of their trucks.

“Professional truck drivers can play a key role during an Amber Alert,” says Gary Volkman, Vice President for Safety at Dart Transit Company. “They are trained to be observant and they are alert to what goes on around them. By the nature of their work, truck drivers are present nearly everywhere, making them a tremendous resource during an Amber Alert.”