Friday, March 24, 2017

All in a night's work

Crew comes to stranded motorist's aid on SR 7


By Mike Allende

All Rhonda Long wanted to do was get home.

Traveling back from Yakima and well into an already 13-hour day, she turned north onto SR 7 in Morton on the very rainy night of March 9. With 100 miles to go before reaching her home in Port Orchard and a slow ride over US 12 behind her, Rhonda was ready to be off the road and safely through her front door.

And then she hit a pothole.

She pulled over to assess any damage but it was 8:15 at night in a driving rain, not ideal conditions to get a good look at her tire. Fortunately for Rhonda, Marty Wilkinson and Jack Thomas, maintenance technicians in the southwest portion of our state, were in the area.

Jack Thomas and Marty Wilkinson

Jack and Marty were in the area fixing potholes on SR 7 and came upon Rhonda and another driver about 5 miles north of Morton. Both had hit the pothole and found themselves on the side of the highway. After helping the first driver with his tire and jumping his dead battery, they moved on to help Rhonda.

"It was very dark and raining very hard but the first thing we think of is to keep the public, ourselves and our coworkers safe," Marty said. "We use our amber strobe lights to hopefully slow down traffic and that helps us all out."

Adding to her problems, the wheels on Rhonda's vehicle also sank into the mud as rain pelted them all. But our crew was able to help get a spare tire put on and move the vehicle out of the mud, and soon Rhonda was on her way.

"I cannot express how grateful I am for Jack's and Marty's help in getting safely off the road and out of the mud," Rhonda said. "I was able to get back on the road from that point! Exhausted, but home!"

It was just in a night's work for Marty, Jack and the rest of our hard-working road crews. Not only do they put forth great effort to keep our highways safe, they also are always available to help out drivers in need, regardless of conditions. Jack and Marty went on to spend the night fixing more potholes along SR 7 with traffic control help from the Washington State Patrol.

These workers don't look at these situations as anything special. But,  but for people like Rhonda, who find themselves in need on dark, rainy nights, help from our crews and other road workers make a huge difference. Thanks for your service, Marty and Jack!