During one of 2010’s heavy snowstorms, half brothers Jeremy Dedeker and Jeff Helm of Running Bear Towing answered a call to pull a car out of a drift on Highway 80 west of Truckee, Calif. At the scene, they uncovered a mystery.
Q What did you find?
JD: The driver was an elderly lady in a huge, late ’80s Lincoln Town Car. She didn’t have snow tires and was quite stuck.
JH: Her car was so big it wouldn’t have been safe on the tow truck my brother drives, so he called me to come pick her up with the flatbed. We planned to take her to Truckee, put her chains on, and send her on her way.
Q When did you notice that something else was wrong?
JD: I was talking to her, and she didn’t know where she was or how she got there. She said she had just run to the grocery store from her house near Reno. She was 60 to 70 miles off.
Q That must have been a strange conversation.
JD: She’d ask, “Where are we?” and I’d say, “You’re on I-80, on the Donner Summit.” She’d say, “I don’t know where that is; I’ve never been there.” I did not believe it was safe for her to drive.
Q What did you do?
JD: I called my supervisor, who told me to contact the local police. They ran a check and discovered that a friend had reported the lady missing earlier that day. An officer took her to meet her friends, and we held the car free of charge until they could get it. The officer said we’d just saved somebody’s life.
This article was published in September 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.