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Minnesota - Being a Hero - All in a Day's Work

A Real Hero - Don Machacek, a member of the Minnesota Department of Transportation's Freeway Incident Response Safety Team -and also of Local 2792 (Council 5) - recently rescued a family of three from a sinking car.

A Real Hero
A Real Hero - Don Machacek, a member of the Minnesota Department of Transportation's Freeway Incident Response Safety Team -and also of Local 2792 (Council 5) - recently rescued a family of three from a sinking car. (Photo credit: Michael Kuchta)

“I was only doing my job,” says Don Machacek, a member of Local 2792 (Council 5), who believes the risk he took to rescue a family of three was not a big deal. “I love my job. I love helping people,” he says.

Machacek, 49, works for the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Freeway Incident Response Safety Team. He was doing his daily rounds — driving 160 to 200 miles along a highway route — when he got an emergency call to go to an accident in Richfield where a car was sinking, nose down, into a pond. Inside, a mother and two children were struggling to stay alive.

“I have to save them,” Machacek thought as he hustled down the muddy embankment. As he opened the car door, water rushed in but he was able to help the passengers to the shore. No one was seriously injured.

As reported by the Star Tribune, Stella Obadiya was on the interstate with her 8-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter when she misjudged the location of her exit and plowed into the water at 55 mph. After calling 911, she decided to wait for help rather than take unnecessary risks. She couldn’t swim.

Fortunately, Machacek got there in time.

He and his co-workers are often a welcome sight to accident victims and any motorist in danger. They deliver gas to stranded drivers, change flats, call tow trucks and guide traffic around accidents.

Machacek is like public workers across the country — ordinary people who think nothing of risking their lives to do extraordinary things. These brave men and women don’t run from trouble. They run to it.