It’s not something many people would do, especially at night and at the end of a work day. But, David Swatzel, a Southern California Edison patrolman, isn't one of those people.
“I was taking a different route from visiting some contractors in Adelanto and as I went around a different way, I noticed a big traffic problem and saw a truck with lights flashing,” he said. “I knew this guy was in big trouble.”
Swatzel's job at SCE requires him to work closely with troublemen by investigating areas where transmission lines are present and looking for safety hazards. Whenever he sees a stranded driver in distress, he takes it very seriously, particularly when he thinks a person’s life could be in danger.
That's exactly what happened on Dec. 19 on Highway 18 at D Street in Victorville. Swatzel saw that a driver needed help after noticing that the front tire was hanging half off.
“I turned the beacons on in the truck and turned sideways so people would know there was a problem,” he said.
The driver, Guy Thomas, didn’t have any equipment to fix the tire and had forgotten his AAA card at home.
“I’ve got no jack, no lug wrench, no roadside assistance card and thought I was going to have to pay a lot of money and it was six days before Christmas,” he said.
Swatzel, who has worked at SCE for 17 years, pulled out a toolbox and a lug wrench to help Thomas fix the tire and moved the truck out of traffic into a nearby parking lot.
“This really shows what type of safety culture SCE instills in its employees, encouraging them to help people. It’s a great thing for the community. He helped me out that night and made my holidays a little happier,” said Thomas.
Every year, SCE honors its employees who go above and beyond the call of duty by nominating them for the J.K. Horton Humanitarian Award. The award honors employees for exceptional courage, self-sacrifice, initiative and resourcefulness in an emergency situation, on or off the job, or who perform other exceptionally noteworthy humanitarian acts.
It turns out Thomas recognized Swatzel from a friend’s birthday party. But, Swatzel didn’t know that until after Thomas reminded him while he was fixing the tire.
“It made me feel good because I knew him a little bit and when I see him again, we’ll probably say to each other, ‘remember that time when your truck got stuck and I helped you out,’” said Swatzel.
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