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Linemen Clear Hazard, Help Motorist

Line Foreman John Hernandez leads a crew during new electric service construction. | Photo by Samantha Gleason

Story by David Norris

As Lineman First Class Jon Williams and Line Foreman John Hernandez drove down Highway 173 on their way to a job in Kerrville, they figured it would be just like any other day. The weather was nice that May morning. It was a little chilly, but nothing a light jacket couldn’t handle.

Everything changed when they noticed a dozen or so bags scattered across the road just ahead. Williams and Hernandez weren’t sure what was in the bags, but they knew a traffic hazard when they saw one.

“The cars along that highway weren’t stopping,” said Williams. “We put the strobes on in the truck so people would see us, and we pulled over to clear them out of the way. We figured if nothing else, just get [them] out of the road so nobody hits them.”

About a minute before all this, Samantha Burns was on her way back home to D’Hanis on the same stretch of highway after picking up ten bags of animal bedding for her show pigs when she too realized her day would be anything but normal.

“I was driving, and the ten bags of shavings just fell off the truck onto the highway. I’m like, oh my gosh!” said Burns.

Burns nearly panicked. It was early and traffic on the highway was heavy. Her mind ran through scenarios of cars swerving and crashing to avoid the bags. She pulled over to turn around and do something, even though she wasn’t sure exactly what.

“I wasn’t sure if I could get it cleared up,” said Burns.

She glanced into her rearview mirror and was suddenly filled with hope. There she saw the BEC truck with its flashing lights. On the highway, Williams and Hernandez were already hard at work.

“They looked like they were in a race because they were grabbing all the bags of shavings and moving them off the highway,” said Burns. “By the time I got back, they had it all cleaned up. And none of the bags were broken!”

Traffic hazard cleared, Williams and Hernandez weren’t finished yet. They took the time to carefully load the bags of bedding back onto Burns’ truck, and Williams even grabbed some extra straps to secure the bags and prevent another hazardous situation.

“We just acted,” said Hernandez. “Just like anybody would stop to help someone out. It just happened to be us that day.”

Their actions quickly caught the attention of Line Foreman Mark Busby back at the BEC office in Bandera. Busby said he’s pleased but not surprised because it’s what the people of BEC do well. When it comes to the community, whether it’s a stranded motorist or helping an Eagle Scout with a project, Busby said BEC employees are always there to help.

“That’s just who we are. When we see someone stranded on the side of the road, we treat them like we would our own family,” said Busby. “If that was my mom or dad, wife, or kids who needed something on the side of the road, that’s the way I’d want them to be treated.”

Burns was so thankful, she wrote an email to the BEC office praising Williams and Hernandez. Transmissions and Distribution Manager John Rush said he’s proud of the quick-thinking, selfless work, but he knows they didn’t do it for the praise.

“They do it because that’s just what they do,” said Rush. “None of our guys do this for the recognition. I think they’re really demonstrating their integrity.”

Even so, Burns is happy to give out praise. She said with all the bad in the world, it’s good to remember there are people out there who will go out of their way to help someone in need.

“A lot of people would have just driven by without stopping or honked their horn,” she said. “Everybody is always in such a hurry to get somewhere or thinking about what they have to do next. Not many people would stop and do what they did.”

Burns said she’ll be extra cautious when it comes to making sure her cargo is well secured from now on.


Posted: 9/1/2021 12:19:42 PM
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