Larren Tarver, Lakefront Lines bus driver, and Lauren Gnall, district safety director for Lakefront Lines and Coach USA, have received the 2019 TAT Harriet Tubman Award presented by Protective Insurance.

The award, which carries with it a $2500 check, is named in honor of famed abolitionist Harriet Tubman, whose courageous personal actions resulted in the transportation of 300 slaves to freedom through the Underground Railroad and whose overall role in the freedom movement was instrumental in the freeing of thousands more. Born into slavery in 1820, Miss Tubman was the first African American woman buried with full military honors and the first to have the inaugural Liberty ship named after her – the SS Harriet Tubman – by the US Maritime Commission.

When the Lakefront Lines Bus Team in Ohio, which had recently completed the Busing on the Lookout (BOTL) training, was notified that a female passenger on one of their buses was allegedly being held against her will and forced into prostitution by a male passenger on the same bus, they immediately sprang into action. As Tarver calmly stopped the bus, he reassured the other passengers, while being as inconspicuous as possible about the reasons for the delay. He notified dispatch and triggered an internal response system within the Lakefront Lines Safety Team that swiftly communicated with law enforcement and ensured police were on the scene as quickly as possible. Gnall and a colleague met the bus on the side of the highway almost immediately. Before the bus got back on the road – and safely transported the other passengers to their destination – the suspect was arrested; the alleged victim was recovered; and the case was referred for further investigation.

“TAT provides excellent training through their BOTL video,” said Gnall. “It opened the eyes of all the employees here at Lakefront Lines and Coach USA. We did not think this would happen in our area, but being aware of what is going on around us at all times and knowing what to look for really is the key. To say that the Award Ceremony and weekend getaway were astounding would be an understatement. We were treated like royalty, and I cannot say thank you enough. The award itself is also very important, because it helps to get people talking about these types of situations that would not have been a topic of conversation otherwise. I hope this keeps the conversation going in the future and opens up more opportunities for training in other industries.”

Tarver declared, “The training really helped me in feeling aware and alert of my surroundings. It really opened my senses to be on the look-out for possible dangers to myself and other people. I felt empowered by thinking of the family members of the victim, and if I wouldn’t have acted in the way I did, I would have probably never had a chance later, and the victim could still be in danger til this day. I can say in my three years of professional driving, I thought I would never encounter a situation like this, although I knew the possibilities were high especially after driving through major cities such as New York and Las Vegas. Some red flags that are imprinted in my mind for future situations like this one are to have a sense of all your passengers, look for any discomfort, nervousness, or anything that may seem odd in people acting strangely on my bus. I believe if everyone steps up to the plate and does the right thing, together, we can make a huge difference in the society we live in. I, too, have a daughter. She’s three years of age now but will eventually ride public transportation, and I care for my daughter’s safety 100 percent. I’m honored to be this year’s winner for the award, and I want to thank my colleagues and Lauren for making that moment in my life possible by their quick responses as well.”

Tarver and Gnall received their award from Laura Cyrus, TAT corporate engagement director, at the Protective Insurance Protective 500 Event in Indianapolis, IN, on May 25. Protective Insurance partners with TAT.

“As an organization, we know that it’s the men and women of the transportation industry — truck drivers and bus drivers — the folks out on the road day in and day out, that are the real heroes of this work,” said Cyrus. “It was an incredible honor to get to award Larren Tarver and Lauren Gnall as our joint winners of the 2019 Harriet Tubman Award presented by Protective Insurance. I must also thank Protective Insurance for supporting our work and this award and providing the platform and lovely venue from which we were able to honor Larren and Lauren. The entire team at Protective is thoughtful and fully engaged in supporting the work of TAT. We are grateful to have them as partners in this work!”

Press release on this event:

Protective Insurance and Truckers Against Trafficking Announce Award Recipients


Ballard Trucking driver Arian Taylor from Nicholasville, Kentucky has been named the 2018 Harriet Tubman award winner by Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) for helping a woman escape from an attempt to forcibly sex traffick her.

The award, which carries with it a $2500 check, is named in honor of famed abolitionist Harriet Tubman, whose courageous personal actions resulted in the transportation of 300 slaves to freedom through the Underground Railroad and whose overall role in the freedom movement was instrumental in the freeing of thousands more. Born into slavery in 1820, Miss Tubman was the first African American woman buried with full military honors and the first to have the inaugural Liberty ship named after her – the SS Harriet Tubman – by the US Maritime Commission.
“Because of Harriet Tubman’s connection to transportation through the Underground Railroad and her heroic work to free thousands of slaves, TAT believes she embodies the symbol of freedom a trucking anti-trafficking award represents,” said Kendis Paris, TAT executive director.  “This award was created to honor a member of the trucking industry each year whose direct actions help save or improve the lives of those enslaved or prevent human trafficking from taking place. Arian Taylor’s actions certainly epitomize that!”

In January of this year, Taylor pulled into a California business to make a delivery at 3:30 am Shortly thereafter, he received a knock on his cab door from a 19-year-old woman. He learned from her that her friend’s older boyfriend was trying to force her into prostitution. After she had refused and argued with him, he dumped her in the parking lot and sped off. She was cold, exhausted, had no money or identification, was carrying everything she owned in her arms and was desperate to get back home to a neighboring state. Taylor assured her of his help. After getting her warm and giving her water to drink, he looked at one of the two TAT stickers prominently displayed on his windows (which the victim had been eye-level with when she knocked on his door) and called the National Human Trafficking Hotline. They worked with him to secure the woman shelter for the night, a pre-paid cab ride to get her to that shelter and a chaperoned train ride back to her home the next day, where she was reunited with a family member. Taylor took care of the young woman until she was placed in the cab, and even gave her his personal cell phone number in case she needed anything else.

Taylor stated, “”Freedom is a privilege that every human being should have and being identified with a freedom fighter like Harriet Tubman has totally enriched my life to keep that fight alive at all costs.”
Taylor received the Harriet Tubman Award and check from Kendis Paris, TAT executive director, at the Protective Insurance Protective 500 Event in Indianapolis, IN, on May 26. Protective Insurance partners with TAT.
“As a company deeply rooted in transportation, we firmly believe in Truckers Against Trafficking’s mission to harness the power of trucking industry personnel to end human trafficking,” said Matt Thompson, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Protective Insurance. “Our annual Indianapolis 500 weekend celebrates many traditions — the race, our longstanding partnerships with our customers, and the spirit of Indianapolis. We thought it would be an incredible opportunity to also celebrate Arian’s heroic efforts and all of the lives that have been saved thanks to truckers making that call to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.”

Press release on this event:

2018 Harriet Tubman Award Winner

Tom Liutkus (center), senior vice president of marketing and public relations for TravelCenters of America, presented the Harriet Tubman award to Debo Adepiti (left), TA general manager at Jessup, and Alan Bailey (right), porter.

Debo Adepiti and Alan Bailey, two TA Travel Plaza employees in Jessup, Maryland, have been awarded the Truckers Against Trafficking Harriet Tubman Award for their actions last year which resulted in the arrest of traffickers and the recovery of victims.

The award, which carries with it a $2500 check, is named in honor of famed abolitionist Harriet Tubman, whose courageous personal actions resulted in the transportation of 300 slaves to freedom through the Underground Railroad and whose overall role in the freedom movement was instrumental in the freeing of thousands more. Born into slavery in 1820, Miss Tubman was the first African American woman buried with full military honors and the first to have the inaugural Liberty ship named after her – the SS Harriet Tubman – by the US Maritime Commission.

“Because of Harriet Tubman’s connection to transportation through the Underground Railroad and her heroic work to free thousands of slaves, TAT believes she epitomizes the symbol of freedom a trucking anti-trafficking award represents,” said Kendis Paris, TAT executive director.

Adepiti and Porter were presented the award and check on Sept. 20 at the Jessup travel plaza. “The training and procedures behind Truckers Against Trafficking are based on a very simple instruction: if you see or suspect something, call,” said Tom Liutkus, senior vice president of marketing and public relations for TravelCenters of America. “Alan and Debo did just that. Their actions led to the arrest of a three-person trafficking ring that was canvassing the entire Baltimore area and that law enforcement was already pursuing. Most importantly, newspaper accounts of the story indicate as many as 12 women had been trafficked across that area. Alan and Debo’s call has forever resulted in changing the lives of those victims for the better. By strict definition of the word, their action was not ‘heroic,’ but the results were. We at TA/Petro are very proud of them.”

Field manager Adepiti at the TA Travel Plaza was making a premise check, including the fuel desk, mechanics shop and hotel, when Alan Bailey, the night porter, told him a young lady had recently come in dressed provocatively; the porter suspected prostitution. After speaking with both the driver of the van that brought the girl, as well as the young lady when she left the hotel, Adepiti believed the girl was being trafficked. He contacted Howard County police. When detectives arrived, they recognized a woman from one of the “X-Factor” ads they’d been investigating for two months on Backpage.com. As a result of Adepiti’s call, they arrested two men and a woman on human trafficking charges. The trio were advertising as many as 12 women from various states, posting ads, renting hotel rooms, scheduling appointments for prostitution and taking money from the women after they were forced to perform sex acts. Detectives also learned all three individuals provided drugs to keep the women high, making them work without sleep, assaulting them and forcing them to perform sex acts with them under threat. Police were able to locate and recover six of the women being abused by the ring of traffickers.

Press coverage on this incident:

Human trafficking uncovered by truck stop call

Con-way Truckload driver Kevin Kimmel from Tavares, Florida has been named the 2015 Harriet Tubman Award winner by Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) for his actions which saved a woman from torture and modern-day slavery.

The award, which carries with it a $2500 check, is named in honor of famed abolitionist Harriet Tubman, whose courageous personal actions resulted in the transportation of 300 slaves to freedom through the Underground Railroad and whose overall role in the freedom movement was instrumental in the freeing of thousands more. Born into slavery in 1820, Miss Tubman was the first African American woman buried with full military honors and the first to have the inaugural Liberty ship named after her – the SS Harriet Tubman – by the US Maritime Commission.

“Because of Harriet Tubman’s connection to transportation through the Underground Railroad and her heroic work to free thousands of slaves, TAT believes she epitomizes the symbol of freedom a trucking anti-trafficking award represents,” said Kendis Paris, TAT executive director.  “And we’re proud to say that Con-Way Truckload partners with TAT in the training of their employees with TAT materials. To date, they’ve trained over 1500 of their employees. Driver Kevin Kimmel’s actions in reporting the suspicious activity he saw while resting at a truck stop is exactly the type of action we want to recognize with the Harriet Tubman award. This award was created to honor a member of the trucking industry each year whose direct actions help save or improve the lives of those enslaved or prevent human trafficking from taking place.”

On the morning of Jan. 6, 2015, Kimmel caught a glimpse of a distraught-looking young girl in the darkened window of an RV which had pulled into the New Kent, Virginia truck stop where Kimmel had stopped for some sleep.

Suddenly, her face was gone, almost as if it had been yanked away by someone.

Kimmel reported later to media that he “saw a guy come up and knock on the door, then go inside the truck stop, then quickly came back and knocked again, all of the sudden the thing was rocking and rolling.”

He decided things didn’t look right and called the police. When police responded, they found an Iowa couple in the RV, along with a 20-year-old malnourished and frightened young woman, who said the couple had kidnapped her two weeks earlier in Iowa, had physically and sexually abused her and then forced her into prostitution. The couple was arrested and charged with sex trafficking.

Kimmel, who has daughters and granddaughters, learned the gruesome details of the case through the news. “I’m just happy I helped her,” he said.

Kimmel received the Harriet Tubman Award and the check from Mark Brown, TAT Board president, and Kylla Lanier, TAT deputy director, at a special ceremony at Con-Way Truckload’s headquarters in Joplin, Missouri on the morning of April 3. At that same ceremony, he was awarded the Truckload Carrier Association’s Highway Angel Award, http://www.truckload.org/Highway-Angel.

Press coverage on this event:

Brad’s Beat: Highway Angel (KSN 16)

Tavares trucker recognized for actions (Daily Commercial)

Kevin Kimmel honored by Truckers Against Trafficking (KOAM 7)

Con-Way driver receives Harriet Tubman Award (LandLine Magazine)

Tracy is a Spokane resident and a 14-year veteran of the transportation industry. She credits the TAT training required of all employees/managers of TravelCenters of America LLC or TA, with playing a pivotal role in her awareness of “something that could be wrong.”

In relating the incident which earned her the award, Tracy recounted that she was walking into a restaurant near her travel plaza to talk to the manager. She noticed two young girls sitting with an older man. “Not that the situation was odd,” she said, “but the man looked as if something could be wrong. I positioned myself close enough to the table to hear the young girls ask for a ride to Seattle. At this point, the images of all the young girls from the training video were going through my mind. I approached the table and asked the girls if everything was okay. One of the girls told me the man was her uncle. The man seemed very uncomfortable and removed himself from the situation. The young girls then asked other drivers for a ride.”

Tracy realized there was a problem and notified law enforcement. The girls turned out to be runaways from a neighboring state with only $5 between them.

She stated, “This is a very special award for me, because, as a mother, I know we helped two young girls not become a statistic that day.”

“Human trafficking is a worldwide issue. We and TAT recognize that, in the United States, much of this activity relies upon the U.S. highway system for trafficking transport, and that because of our prime locations principally along the Interstate Highway System, our professional driver customers and our employees just might be in the right place at the right time to help a victim. We provide employees and drivers with information about what to look for through our company-wide training and awareness programs. We are honored by the news that Tracy received this award. We are proud of her and of the fact that she took the TAT training to heart and used it,” commented Tom O’Brien, president and CEO of TA.

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