Jim Putnam loved two things: His family and road trips.
"He would jump on the road," his granddaughter Samantha Davis told NBC 5.
Last week the 72-year-old from Elgin was driving one of his seven grandchildren to a new job in Boston.
Together with his sister-in-law they were on I-90 in Ohio when a piece of vinyl fencing flew off the back of a pickup truck and slammed into his windshield, family says.
"That accident could have ended three lives if they didn't react the way they did," Davis said.
Putnam was knocked unconscious but the other passengers managed to ease his leg off the gas pedal. He later died at an Ohio hospital.
"If you are hauling something you need to tie it down, you need to make sure it's secure," Davis said. "Because great grandchildren, seven grandchildren and two sons, cousins, aunts, uncles--we all lost him. And he was the pillar of this family."
As the family works on burying Jim next to his wife of more than 50 years, they say they are determined to move forward.
"I do believe that someone could have done something differently," Davis said. "But I can't be hateful because I teach my children not to be hateful."
Police are still looking for the driver of a white or off-white newer model pickup truck in relation to the accident.