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An act of kindness just in time for Christmas

Brothers come to the rescue of motorist stranded in winter storm

By Kevin Mertens - Staff Writer | Jan 4, 2021

An attempt is made to pull Ali Foth’s pickup out of the ditch the day after the Dec. 23 blizzard.

The blizzard on Dec. 23 resulted in some residents of Faribault County losing their electricity. Others found it tough to make it home from work.

Such was the case for Ali Foth, the manager at Bomgaars in Blue Earth.

Luckily for Foth and other drivers who ended up stranded in the storm, there are good, kind-hearted people willing to lend a helping hand to those in need of assistance.

Foth, who has been the manager at Bomgaars since August of 2019, left the store the evening of Dec. 23, after closing up.

“We (Bomgaars) typically do not close early because of bad weather,” she explains. “Normally, one of the employees who lives in town would close when the weather is bad, but we had some employees gone and one of the persons who lives in town had opened the store in the morning so I did not want them to have to close also.”

So Foth drove south out of town on U.S. Highway 169 heading towards her home just west of Elmore.

“I actually gave a ride home to another employee who lives in Blue Earth and she offered to put me up for the night. I also had another opportunity to stay in town, but I thought I could make it,” Foth says. “I should have accepted one of those offers.”

She found the visibility once she left the city limits was quite poor.

“I would drive with my window down so I could see the white line on the road. The road itself was clear but it was hard to see it,” she recalls. “I went past one car in the ditch and was contemplating whether I should stop and see if anybody was in the car. I did not get too much further before I ended up in the ditch myself.”

Thankfully Foth was going slow enough and her pickup stayed upright.

“It was a soft landing,” she says smiling. “My pickup died when I went in the ditch but I was able to restart it. I made sure the exhaust pipe was not plugged and was able to keep warm with the heater running.”

Foth says she knew where she was and came up with a plan.

“One thing about being the manager at Bomgaars is I have gotten to know quite a few people so I started making some phone calls,” she says. “One of the persons I called was Shannon Sunken. I believe it was Shannon who then called Scott and Amy Kramer.”

The Kramers live across the road from the Blue Earth Airport. Scott and Amy’s sons, Lucas, who has one semester left at South Dakota State University in Brookings, and Zach, a senior at Blue Earth Area, were both home and volunteered to go and rescue the stranded traveler.

“We got stuck in our driveway,” Lucas says. “But we made it out to the road and began the search.”

The bad visibility Foth had dealt with also caused problems for the brothers.

“I was the look-out,” Zach explains. “I would open my door and try and find the white line on the road.”

It was slow-going at about five miles-per-hour, but eventually they came upon a stranded female.

“We were visiting for a little while when we figured out it was not the person we were looking for,” Lucas laughs. “The girl we came upon first had someone from the Sheriff’s Department coming to help them.”

So the boys got back in their pickup and resumed their search.

“We did not have to go much further but it was very hard to find her,” Zach comments. “You could not see another vehicle until you were side-by-side with it.”

Once they had all climbed in the Kramer’s pickup they decided to try and go back into Blue Earth.

“We gave up on that thought pretty quickly,” Zach says. “It was not worth it.”

The brothers said they saw three or four other cars in the ditch while they were on their rescue mission.

Once back at the Kramer’s home, Foth says they offered her some supper.

“I think I was just too shook up to eat,” she comments. “I had an apple and it was enough.”

They did watch a movie, however.

“We watched the Fast and the Furious and we visited,” Amy Kramer says. “Ali is a nice gal and it was fun getting to know her.”

In the morning the boys took Foth out to her vehicle and worked for about an hour trying to pull it out of the ditch.

“We were not having much luck,” Foth says. “But then a payloader, owned by the Sunkens, came on the scene and had me out in no time.”

Foth was able to start her vehicle and get back on the road.

“I have a friend, Preston Krinke, who has a heated shop, so I took it there to thaw the vehicle out,” she comments. “The engine compartment was packed with snow. It was like one huge block of ice.”

While the storm may have caused her troubles on the road, Foth says it was good for business at the store.

“We sold out of generators and sold half of the snow blowers we had in inventory,” she shares.

The native of Livermore, Iowa, a small town between Algona and Humboldt, was also reminded of the kind-hearted people living in this area.

“I enjoy working in Blue Earth. I get to meet some nice customers and some super-friendly people,” Foth shares. “I really appreciate and am thankful for the help I received during the storm.”