by David Kreisman | March 18, 2014
EVANSVILLE – During his 14 years as a snowplow driver, AFSCME Local 789 member Jeff Holte helped prevent many a traffic accident by keeping the roads clear. But in February this year, his quick action prevented a tragedy.
Holte was driving his route, eastbound on I-94, spreading sand and clearing a safe path for motorists when the weather changed suddenly.
Temperatures plummeted and, in a matter of minutes, Holte watched the road go from perfectly safe to a sheet of ice.
Roughly half a mile ahead of his plow, a car lost control and rolled into a ditch, breaking the rear window and sliding upside down. With the rear window smashed and the car sliding backwards, the interior of the car quickly became packed full of snow.
Holte immediately pulled over his plow, radioed the Minnesota State Patrol for help, and ran over to the car.
“A gal got out of the car…she came running up out of the ditch pretty frantic. She was screaming that her boyfriend was still trapped in the car packed with snow and he was having trouble breathing because the car was so full of snow,” Holte told the local newspaper, Daily Globe.
Sending the young woman to sit in his truck, Holte tried opening the car doors, but couldn’t get them open. Eventually getting in through a back door, he began digging.
“It was full of snow so I started digging out with my hands between the bucket seats, and I was talking to him to be sure he was getting air in there,” Holte said. “I dug snow away from him and saw his arms were trapped up above his head. I just continued to dig more snow away until I was able to belly-crawl in and get in far enough to get his seat belt released and get him pulled out of the vehicle.”
Thanks to Holte, the young woman and her boyfriend both escaped without injury.
“It was kind of a wild few minutes there when it happened,” Holte said. “I’m just glad I was in the right place at the right time to help them.”
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