While treating highways with salt in the Kansas City area during the winter storm of Dec. 21, 2013, Missouri Department of Transportation senior maintenance worker David Winship found himself in a unique position to do a little more than usual to help a motorist in need.
Winship had just driven across the U.S 69 bridge over southbound Interstate 29 in Clay County about 3 p.m., when he saw smoke rising over the side of the guardrail.
He pulled his snowplow over to investigate and discovered a smoking vehicle down the embankment resting on its driver side and against some trees.
No emergency vehicles were on the scene yet, and as Winship approached the vehicle, he could hear someone yelling for help from inside the vehicle.
After calling 9-1-1, Winship determined he had to get the motorist out of the smoking vehicle, but because the doors were locked and the car was on its side, he decided he had to get creative, said Roberta Broeker, chief financial officer, who nominated him for the State Employee of the Month.
Luckily, the vehicle was a convertible and Winship had a pocket knife with him that he used to cut a slit in the top.
Then, he cut a hole large enough to pull the motorist from her vehicle with the help of another concerned motorist who had pulled over to help.
Emergency responders arrived to the scene shortly afterward.
He received a "big bear hug" for his efforts and then Winship continued driving his route to help ensure other motorists could get to their destinations safely.
Winship said that was an unusual incident.
But, being prepared for whatever may come one's way is important.
"I'm just glad I was there to help; it was a blessing all around," Winship said.
Missouri's State Employee of the Month is selected by the State Employee of the Month Selection Committee from among nominations submitted by the 16 state departments and some elected offices. The six committee members also are members of the State Training Advisory Council.