ITD Vault: 38 Years Ago
July/August 1977

Act of Heroism

District Five (editor's note: the office in northern Idaho was at that time referred to as D5) is very proud of one of our employees, Tim Turrell, who exhibited a heroic act by saving the lives of two individuals.

On May 20, during the ongoing construction work by Idaho Division of Highways maintenance forces, District Five's Maintenance Operator Tim Turrell, without regard for his personal safety, performed an act of heroism which saved the lives of two people in the water of Coeur d'Alene Lake. Unhesitating action on Tim's part when he saw Mr. and Mrs. Stowes' pickup truck go over the Beauty Bay grade into the water was the margin necessary to save the Stowes' lives--neither victim could swim.

Mr. Harding, District Engineer, summed up the feelings of the District and Department when he stated

"It is with a great deal of pride that the District commends Tim Turrell for the immediate action taken to rescue Mr. and Mrs. Stowe. This is an example of the highest order of conduct by an Idaho Division of Highways' employee in serving the highway user."

Editor’s 2015 Note: Turrell, who lives about a mile from the D1 offices, retired from ITD in 2007 after more than three decades of service.  He started part time in April 1970, working summers at ITD between stints at North Idaho College and Idaho State University, where he played baseball as a 6-foot-4, right-handed pitcher with questionable control. He walked on at ISU in 1972, where his little brother, Tom, was a catcher. He recalls that on the day of the water rescue, May 20, ITD crews were in the process of widening Idaho 97 over the Beauty Bay Grade. He was 24 years old and standing next to a grader just after 9 a.m. when things started going haywire. Jim and Rosa Stowe, owners of the local lumber mill, started down the grade in a pickup. Turrell speculates that when the grader started moving, Jim caught the movement out of the corner of his eye and stomped on the gas. The V8 engine in the little truck sprang to life, sending the Stowes down a 50-foot embankment into about 15 feet of water. Turrell, who had been setting barricades but typically would have been at another part of the project running machinery, tore off his hat, glasses and vest, and had one boot off when Jim popped up from the depths. “He couldn’t swim a lick, and that water was still very cold,” Turrell recalls. Tim put Jim over the only part of the car he could, the rear bumper, and set to fishing out Rosa, who had pushed Jim out of the car but was still stuck in the cab. A nearby fisherman came over with his boat, and the Stowe’s were loaded onto the craft along with another employee, who was an EMT. They were then rushed to the local hospital, treated, and released. The Stowe’s gave Turrell a nice watch, which he still has, and he was recognized for his efforts by then-District Engineer Merle Harding, ITD Director Darrell Manning, andTransportation Board Chairman Dean Tisdale. Governor John Evans also congratulated Turrell  on his heroism. With his CDL, Turrell has driven a petroleum tanker truck for Exxon Mobile for the past four years, as he did for the last 23 years of his time with ITD.



Published 07-02-15