Good Neighbor: Colorado man helps those stuck in a rut
by Wayne Carlson
On a recent Saturday, my wife wanted to go to Sterling to do some shopping. I agreed to go along, and since it was a beautiful day, I suggested that we take a couple hours and visit the site of the Battle of Summit Springs. I have an abiding interest in Colorado history and geography and have always wanted to check out this place, the site of the last major plains Indian battle, in 1868. She agreed, so away we went.
We did our shopping and had lunch and at about 2 p.m. we headed southeast out of Sterling toward Akron.
Carol had a detailed map of the area and we were soon just five miles from our destination. We left the blacktop highway and turned onto a graveled county road. When we were about a mile away we met a man on foot, who flagged us down, and asked if we had a telephone. He happened to be from New York state and was visiting his mom and stepdad in Sterling. Since it was a lovely spring day, his stepfather had suggested that they go check out the site of the Battle of Summit Springs.
Unfortunately, they had gotten stuck and needed help. We asked him to get into our car and we would take him back to his car and decide on a course of action. He thankfully agreed, got into our four-wheel drive Explorer and we slowly proceeded. We drove through several small snowdrifts on our way, but I was unconcerned. The road was in good condition, and it was a lovely spring day.
After half a mile or so, we turned onto another road and headed east toward some bluffs, which is where the battle site is located. This road ascended a small hill and had some snow on it, but was still in pretty good shape. Right as I approached the crest of the hill, our passenger informed me that his car was right ahead and that I should probably not go any farther. I attempted to stop just before I crested the hill, where the road was still relatively dry. Unfortunately, as I gently applied the brakes, my car slid a little bit onto the other side of the hill and into a puddle of melted snow. The road had become a quagmire! The melted snow water had accumulated on the south side of the road and it very much resembled quicksand. This would-be rescuer was hopelessly stuck!
About 100 yards ahead, on the downside of the hill was our passenger’s rented car, along with his mom and stepdad. It was actually a good thing for us that they had preceded us over this hill, or our car would now probably be located about where their car was, since you really had no warning of the situation until you crested the hill. They had tried their best to stop, but had continued sliding down the treacherous slope. Their situation was just as bad now as it had been prior to our grand entrance onto the scene. Now what do we do?
The stepdad, a man in his early 60s and in good physical condition, volunteered to go for help. From the top of the hill we could see a farmhouse about two miles or so away, in fact, very near where Carol and I had first picked up our passenger. I offered to go with him, since it was such a lovely spring day.
Forty-five minutes later, we got to the farmhouse and hopefully approached the door. Before we could ring the doorbell, a farmer emerged from the house. He took one look at our muddy clothes and feet and immediately ascertained what we wanted. It seems as though we were not the first people needing rescue.
Especially after a rain or snow storm, his services were frequently requested. After introductions and apologies for our carelessness, we asked for his assistance. I grew up on a farm near Greeley, and I know how thoughtful and compassionate most farmers are.
We learned that the gentleman’s name was Doug Koester, and he headed for the barn to get the tractor to rescue us. His father, Dan, gave us a ride back to the hill in his pickup. As soon as Doug got to my Explorer, we hooked the chain to my heavy duty bumper and in just a few minutes, Carol and I were free!
Getting the other vehicle out was much more of a challenge. It was located about halfway down a very slick quarter mile hill and was headed in the wrong direction. After some deliberation, Doug got his tractor positioned in front of the car, fastened the chain, and pulled it to the bottom. Fortunately, there was room to get turned around, and then the car was pulled slowly and steadily up the hill, until it, too, was freed! What used to be a white vehicle now resembled a hog after a mud bath.
The entire ordeal had taken up most of the afternoon of this lovely spring day. We had all learned a valuable lesson about dirt roads, springtime snowstorms, cellular phones, and helpful farmers! Hopefully, none of us will ever face this situation again!
Thank you Doug and Dan!