OOIDA member rescues couple stuck in blizzard

| 2/7/2011

OOIDA Member John Crozman says he was just doing his job when he spotted a car stranded during a fierce ground blizzard that swept through Summit, SD, during the early hours on Thursday, Feb. 3.

OOIDA Member John Crozman rescued a stranded couple during a ground blizzard near Summit, SD.

Crozman told Land Line he was heading northbound on Interstate 29. He described the sudden weather change: “Someone flipped a switch and all of a sudden there was a ground blizzard and nearly whiteout conditions.”

While looking for a safe place to pull off at the rest area at mile marker 213, he realized that huge drifts were covering the road, making it inaccessible.

Crozman, an owner-operator from Blackhawk, SD, is leased to Long Haul Trucking of Albertville, MN. He was headed back to the truck stop a few miles away when he saw a faint light coming from a car that was stranded near the rest area.

“Honestly, I was worried that I wasn’t going to find them alive when I knocked on their window,” he said. “But they were OK, just scared, and were using a candle to keep warm.”

Thomas and Mary Lynne Fischer of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, were on their way back home from a biking trip in Arizona, when bad weather struck. They had been stranded in their car for more than four hours when Crozman found them.

Crozman said he helped them to his truck and drove them back to the Coffee Cup Fuel Stop near Summit. He also gave up his bunk so they could rest and he made sure their vehicle was rescued among the nearly 200 vehicles that were stranded during the blizzard along I-29 overnight, before he went on his way.

The only explanation Crozman gave his dispatcher the next day was that it had been a “wild and woolly night” and he would be a little late delivering his load because the roads were closed and he was going to have to detour around.

His company found out about his rescue of the Fischers when the couple sent Long Haul Trucking’s owner John Daniels a heartfelt e-mail on Friday, Feb. 4. Up until that point, Crozman hadn’t told anyone what he had done. On Monday, Feb. 7, Crozman said Daniels called him with the news his company was reimbursing him for his base plate costs for 2011.

“I think all truckers have helped someone on the road. It’s something we do but rarely get recognition for. It’s part of the job,” he said. “I didn’t want any glory, but I am glad they are all right. I was really worried that they weren’t going to be when I went over to their car.”

In their e-mail, the Fischers’ couldn’t write enough kind things about their new hero, John Crozman.

“We have always had the utmost respect for those individuals involved in the trucking industry and now we owe our lives to one of them. John is a humble man who did not want us to make a fuss over him; however, we know that we must relay this information and have him receive the recognition he deserves.”