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Roadside rescuers get stranded Colorado travelers safe for free

Posted at 6:03 PM, Dec 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-21 20:03:40-05

DENVER—No one ever plans to be broken down on the side of I-70, but as snow descended on the Denver Metro, many stranded drivers really didn’t expect what would happen next.

"If you've got a spare, I can go ahead and change it, get you out of here and get you safe,” Tom McDowell, a service assist driver with the CDOT State Farm Safety Patrol, told one driver whose tire had just blown out.

Safety Patrol drivers proactively roam the highways in the Denver metro area to help motorists in need free of charge.

"I was worried about getting hit by a car until he pulled up, so it's pretty good,” said Mike Niesen, whose tire blew out on the I-70 during the storm. “He’s finished before my roadside assistance has even given me an ETA.”

Meanwhile, several tow truck drivers are also part of the service, which offers free, limited roadside assistance to drivers in need, including providing fuel, changing flat tires, jump-starting vehicles, providing lockout assistance, and moving vehicles to the shoulder or nearest interchange.

The CDOT State Farm Safety Patrol is expected to assist more than 30,000 motorists in 2017 alone, according to State Farm.

"I was slammed this morning. I mean, stop after stop after stop," said Alan Schlup, a tow truck driver with Extreme Towing and Recovery working for the Safety Patrol.

He said tow truck drivers don’t always get to be the hero, but on snow days like Thursday, they do.

"They always think there's a charge, and when we tell them it's a free service, they're actually more surprised. So, it's pretty sweet," he said.