Then, when he saw a girl peering around a curtain, he knew something was badly wrong and he needed to take action. Kevin Kimmel is an American truck driver.
He has worked at Conway Truckload for more than half a decade following a career change. But when he first got behind the wheel, he didn’t know just how much he would learn from his new job on the roads. Indeed, in January 2015, Kimmel had an experience that would change his life forever. He had been making deliveries overnight when he stopped to rest in New Canton County, Virginia. Once there, he planned to sleep during the day, but something caught his eye.
Although it is located in a rural area, the truck stop that Kimmel had chosen was quite busy. Nevertheless, one vehicle, in particular, stood out. It was a pretty old RV, and unusually, the windows were blacked out. To Kimmel, it clearly wasn’t one of those family-friendly RVs that he often sees parked up. So, as he was filling out paperwork, the truck driver decided to keep an eye out on it.
Then, after a while, he saw a man knock on the suspicious vehicle’s door before entering. The stranger then exited the RV only to return to the vehicle shortly afterward. Soon, the van began rocking. Then, after around 15 minutes, the motion stopped, and the vehicle was still once again. But what happened next would really spark Kimmel’s concerns.
The truck driver continued to monitor the van, and then he spotted a figure looking out from behind a blackout shade. It was a young lady. That said, Kimmel only had a quick glimpse of her as someone inside the van pulled the woman from view before readjusting the shade. Immediately, this set alarm bells ringing in Kimmel’s mind, and yet he couldn’t be sure of exactly what he’d just seen. As a result, he tussled with a decision over what to do next before eventually opting to call the local police.
After Kimmel relayed what had happened, a dispatcher sent two trooper cruisers and two sheriff cruisers to the scene. From there, the driver watched as the police escorted a young lady from the RV. They didn’t handcuff her, and according to Kimmel, she looked extremely disheveled. A short time later, police removed a man and a woman from the vehicle, and they were both in handcuffs. Kimmel subsequently gave statements to the local police and the FBI.
However, it wasn’t until later that he learned what happened. Kimmel discovered that the couple had kidnapped a victim two weeks previously. Since then, horrifically, they’d been torturing her and starving her. Authorities subsequently handed the couple, Elder Hodzin, and Laura Sorensen, sentences of 42 and 40 years in jail, respectively. Authorities never made the victim’s identity public.
However, Kimmel revealed that she had reached out to him following the ordeal. “She thanked me and called me her hero or guardian angel,” he later revealed to Truckers Against Trafficking.
“I told her thank you and that my wish for her was that she find a way to get through this nightmare and go on to live a happy and healthy life.” Kimmel was happy to have been able to help the young woman in question. However, he knew there was more that he could do as a trucker.
He felt he had a position on the front line of human trafficking. So, he reached out to the charity Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT). TAT is an organization of trucking industry workers who are committed to fighting human trafficking.
The charity educates drivers on the signs of trafficking. After all, as they work on the nation’s highways, they’re ideally placed to keep an eye out for traffickers who exploit the US transport system.
According to the TAT website, there are currently 20.9 million modern-day slaves around the world. Indeed, in the US alone, there are hundreds of thousands of trafficking victims. Traffickers find their victims in a range of places, from shopping malls to schools, and the majority of slaves are women and children. However, the crime can be hard to spot, which is why TAT’s work is so vital.
Today, Kimmel is an important voice in the campaign to raise awareness of the trafficking issue. He now talks about his experiences at anti-trafficking events nationwide. What’s more, he wants other truck drivers to be vigilant too. “Traffickers are constantly moving these people. They stay in the darkness.
That’s why they can’t be anywhere too long,” Kimmel told CNN in April 2017. “But when you’re moving them, then you come into my world. If we know the signs and we’re vigilant, then we can make a big piece of this problem go away.” So not only did Kimmel manage to save one girl from a horrific fate at the hands of traffickers, but he’s now also helping others. After all, the more truckers he can get on board, the fewer places where culprits can go unseen.
And anything that makes their lives harder has got to be a good thing.
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