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Local trucker offers helping hand

October 14, 2010

No one ever wants to be involved in a car accident. But in the unfortunate case that you are, you can hope that someone like Mike Mooney finds you.
You see, coming to the aid of a motorist in trouble is not new to Mike. He has been there, done that - a number of times. Though his family sees him as nothing short of a hero, Mike says he has “not done anything that anybody else wouldn’t do.”
Mike has been an over-the-road truck driver for at least 36 years, “off and on.” He began driving with his dad when he was only 16. During his years on the road he says he has encountered more accidents than he can count. And at least a half a dozen of those required him to spring into action.
The most recent such incident was Monday, Oct. 4. Mike’s wife, Kim, was traveling with him that day as she had the day off work. They loaded in Oldham, S.D. that morning and headed out across a county blacktop road.
There has been lots of rain in that area in recent weeks, creating little bogs and wetlands along the road. Kim says she was reading the newspaper when all of a sudden Mike spotted someone in trouble, and brought the truck to an abrupt stop.
“I saw a car upside down in the water,” Mike says. “Kim started yelling at me that she saw a head sticking out of the water.”
Mike says without hesitating he jumped into what was knee-deep water to reach the car. The lone occupant was conscious and alert, but very frightened, yelling for someone to get him out. “So I did,” says Mike, very matter-of-fact.
Kim wrapped the man in a blanket they had in the truck and waited for rescue personnel to arrive. Luckily, the man was not injured.
Not all of the accidents Mike has happened upon have been so minor. He recalls one incident that hit him particularly hard. This one was several years ago, in 2002 or 2003, when he came upon an accident involving a semi truck and a pickup.
The 17-year-old driver of the pickup had been ejected and was some distance away from the vehicle. Mike says by the time he arrived on the scene several people had already stopped. However, no one would go near the young victim.
Mike made his way to the teen and tried to find a pulse, but was unable to find one. “I just sat with him until someone came. I didn’t want him to be alone.”
Encountering an accident has not just happened to Mike while in his truck. He recalled once when Kim was driving him to Merna they came across a BN van which had rolled on the icy highway right in front of them. Mike again ran to the rescue, bandaging wounds and doing what he could to control bleeding of the injured in the van.
“I have seen him run across the interstate with a fire extinguisher, or to help someone,” says Kim. “There have been times I thought I was going to have to call 911 for him ‘cause I thought he was going to get hit!”
These experiences have made both Mike and Kim strong advocates of the 911 locator system. Most cell phones come with this locator already installed, and Kim found out during the South Dakota incident just how useful that can be.
“I was not sure where we were,” Kim says of that morning. “I was yelling at Mike asking what road we were on, and before I could even get it figured out to tell the lady she said she had already found me, thanks to my cell phone. She knew right where we were, and where to send help.”
On most cell phones this can be found under settings & tools, phone settings. Look for a setting that says ‘location.’ You can then either set your phone for ‘location on’ or ‘E911 only.’
Mike remains very modest and humble about his efforts to help others. “It’s just what you do,” he says.

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