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TRUCKER SALUTED AS ROLE MODEL FOR SAVING MAN'S LIFE : CRASH VICTIM, FAMILY HAVE GROWN CLOSE TO QUICK-THINKING DRIVER.

Byline: Patricia Farrell Aidem Daily News Staff Writer

The cop and the trucker have been close friends since that night they met on a dark stretch of freeway and one breathed new life into the other.

It was April 1993 when truck driver Boyd Applegate was traveling south on the Golden State Freeway north of Santa Clarita and spotted an accident on the other side of the freeway.

On Wednesday, more than two years later, Applegate was honored in Sacramento by the trucking industry and held up as an example of a model trucker for his efforts that night to help a stranger.

In a telephone interview, Applegate recalled the evening he found a panicked group surrounding Bruce Barber, an off-duty Los Angeles Police Department officer, critically injured when the car he was riding in hit a stalled car.

Applegate pulled over, then ran across eight lanes to the mangled car.

``His wife was pleading for help and nobody was doing anything,'' Applegate said. ``I didn't really know what I was doing, but I could see he wasn't breathing and I opened his mouth and found he had swallowed his tongue. I pulled it out of his throat, held his mouth (open) and gave him some breaths.''

``I owe this man life,'' said Barber, who was with Applegate in Sacramento at the awards ceremony.

Barber suffered a broken neck and was in intensive care for a month at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital. He wouldn't have reached there if it weren't for his new friend, he said.

``He knew to clear the airway, that was very important and he knew to calm my wife, that it was important for her to talk to me, to get a response from me.''

Barber's wife, also injured in the crash, spoke to her husband of the baby the couple was preparing to adopt. Cody, now 2, was born the day Barber had surgery to repair his broken neck.

Cody knows the trucker who saved his daddy, and on a recent visit Applegate let the toddler up in his rig.

``He had the time of his life,'' Barber said.

The pair's friendship developed quickly after their first meeting, both men said.

``He's a lifetime friend, not because he saved my life, because he's fun to be around,'' said Barber, who returned to full duty more than 18 months after the accident. ``He's a good guy; we have the same personalities.''

To fellow truckers, Applegate serves as a model, said Maureen Heagney, spokeswoman for the California Trucking Association.

``We see him as one of the best, safest drivers on the road,'' Heagney said. ``He's the model.''
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Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jun 13, 1996
Words:441
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