Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Some late-night kindness on I-5 in Mt. Vernon

By Andrea E. Petrich

It was 1 a.m. on a chilly night earlier this November when Casey O'Keefe's tire blew on northbound I-5 south of Mount Vernon. That's a pretty scary experience, especially in the middle of the night.

Casey safely made it to the side of the highway and called roadside assistance. With help on its way, and his mobile phone nearly dead, Casey knew if assistance was delayed, couldn't find him or he needed to call for more help, he'd be in real trouble.

Thankfully, Juan Medina was nearby.
Casey O'Keefe returns an inverter loaned to him during a roadside emergency.

Juan, an employee of the Belarde Company working on our I-5 Stillaguamish River Bridge to Hill Ditch Bridge paving project, noticed Casey's vehicle. He pulled over to be sure things were okay.

Casey told Juan about his cell phone and without a second thought, Juan handed over his power inverter to give Casey's phone a charge. Needing to get back to work, Juan let Casey know he'd circle back around to get the charger back. When they failed to reconnect that night, Casey knew he had to return the favor.

The next day, he called our Burlington office to get some information, then grabbed the inverter and drove down from Bellingham. He didn't know the name of the person who loaned him the device, or the company he worked for, only that there was a "B" on the work truck. A little digging on our part identified the project and the company so we reached out to them to find the owner.

That led us – and the inverter – to Juan, who was really grateful to Casey for his diligence in returning the device. He assumed he'd seen the last of it.

Casey was just as thankful for the help Juan gave him.

"It's nice to come across great humans when you need them," he said.

We agree.

This month – and especially this week – is a time to remember all the things we're thankful for. That's why this story resonated so much with us. We employ fantastic staff and contractors who not only do a great job taking care of our highways but also work to be sure the people who use our roads are taken care of, too.

So thanks to Juan and Casey for sharing their story of mutual kindness. It was the perfect time to remind us what this time of year is all about.