“Most New Mexicans don’t know how to drive in the snow very well because we don’t get it as often, especially here in the metro area,” said Kristen Kenneth, nominator for Pay it 4ward.
So when so much snow falls, the roads can become dangerous, especially when you are alone.
“It took me about three hours to get home that day. And I can’t tell you how long, how long I probably would have been there without him,” Kenneth said.
Kenneth was heading back to Rio Rancho during last month’s snowstorm and, like dozens of other drivers, she couldn’t climb the hill on her own. Enter Michael Zirpel and his big white truck.
“He was just pulling people, he was just attaching the tow hook to the bottom of people’s cars. And he was just pulling them to safety when they were just spinning around stuck and going nowhere,” Kenneth said.
She said it took her nearly an hour to get her up the hill, but she wasn’t the only one who needed help.
“He’s done it with countless other people. I would imagine he probably saved about 50 people that day,” Kenneth said. “That’s the reason I wanted to name him is he did an amazing thing. I don’t know how many people would have actually stepped up in that scenario. But he did.”
A meeting with Zirpel was soon arranged at Dutch Bros.
“Hi michael. Hi. So we contacted KOB 4 before and we are paying for what you did last week. So thank you very much. Here is $400 and we appreciate you so much. Thank you. Thank you for what you have done. Thank you said Kenneth.
“Oh thank you,” Zirpel said. “That’s really surprising. Thank you.”
Zirpel says his father is from South Dakota and taught him how to drive in the snow, but admits that this storm was even a challenge for him.
“It was really down, and it was you couldn’t see anything in front of you,” he said.
And that’s why he knew he had to stay and help.
“I was just there to help. It blew me away. I’m really surprised,” Zirpel said.
A bit of warmth on a very cold night.
“There are amazing people there and he helps me understand that you have to be kind to each other,” Kenneth said.
“Everyone should just help everyone. It should be,” Zirpel said.