Dear Sgt. Drabek,
I am writing to commend two of your Officers, Jacob Ballesteros and Tuhwan Kim.
On August 12, 2016, which was a Friday, I was headed north on I 35. Like many other folks, I work in Austin but live elsewhere, so I was headed home after a very tiring week at work at The University of Texas School of Law. While it is true that I drive what most would say is an old model Chevy Silverado, it is dear to me and has taken me up and down I 35 for five years. Up until that evening, it had never failed me on the highway.
Between 8:00-9:00 I was approaching the Rundberg area, when the truck just died going full speed up the highway. I tried to get it off the highway but ultimately was only able to get it onto an exit ramp and off the road. Obviously it was a very bad location and while I don’t scare easily, I was very apprehensive when I assessed the situation. At the time I really couldn’t tell if the truck had run out of gas or the battery had just failed. (my gas gage is not totally reliable!) Anyway, as I stood behind my truck clutching my small gas can, a man and woman pulled up behind me and offered to take me to a gas station. I was very worried but agreed and off we went. There was an obvious “language barrier” which made it impossible for us to communicate and me even more anxious. In the meantime, the gentleman spotted two police cars sitting across the street from the gas station. I can only assume that he had already realized that the location of the truck alone was going to make the rescue situation a bit risky without professional help.
I walked up to the cruiser and explained my unfortunate situation. The officer could see I was nervous and a bit distraught. The two officers quickly assessed the situation and came up with a plan. Officer Ballesteros thanked the gentleman who had driven me there and told him that they (the officers) would now handle the job. I was so impressed with their patience and the fact that they had a plan ready for this situation on a minutes’ notice. I feel sure that “stranded motorist” is not high on the list of police duties, but it was like a well-oiled machine with each step already in place. I was very impressed! And I was shocked, because of my experience in other Texas towns where many times an officer/department will seize such an opportunity to find reasons to “ticket” the motorist while they are already standing on the side of the road in the middle of a crisis! These officers were focused on the task at hand and getting me safely back on the road.
As I mentioned, they got me off the road and had instructed me to turn down the first street or into the first parking lot I saw, when I got across the access road. What happened next was a surprise to all three of us. I did as I was told but unfortunately the street was a very dark side street. Quickly I spotted some teenage looking guys with a newer model car sitting across the road. Again there was a language barrier but we finally got one of the young men to realize we needed jumper cables and a car to provide the jump. We had already tried the gas but that didn’t start the truck. And the officers had already explained to me that the electrical systems in their cruisers prevented them from using their police cars for the “jump”.
Suffice it to say that the story has a happy ending, even though it took a few extra tries to start the truck. It did finally start and off I went into the night. Of course as a part of the well-orchestrated plan, we had already decided that I was to hit the road and not look back! I did so and left the two officers there, in the dark with the helpful teenagers, but I will admit I worried about them on my ride home. The teenagers were indeed helpful, but I did get the impression (as a seasoned ex-high school teacher) that they had less than desirable character traits which gave me some cause for concern.
I guess all’s well that ends well! The entire incident probably only took 30 minutes but it will be in my memory for a long time. These two officers were courteous, respectful, patient, considerate and obviously skilled at the job. And I am very grateful. The entire incident gave me a great impression of the Austin Police Department as well. Kuddos to all!