On Monday, January 25, 2021, Bellevue, Nebraska along with the entire region was hit by a snowstorm which was documented by some media outlets as the largest amount of snow in a 24-hour period in our area since 1975. This storm started in the early morning hours and was still coming down steadily at 10pm at night. As you can imagine this put a strain on the City of Bellevue’s snow removal crews, many of whom, worked the entire time period with just a few breaks.
At around 4pm, which was right in the middle of some of the heaviest bands of snow, Bellevue Streets Department Employee Jim Zymola, was driving his snow plow and doing what he has described as his, “routine snow removal route”, near the intersection of St. Andrew Road and Kay Lynn Drive which is just a few blocks west of Bellevue East High School.
As he was driving his large snow plow on St. Andrews Rd, he noticed a car that looked like it had either been in an accident or was stuck in a perilous position. As Mr. Zymola looked closer, he noticed what he thought may have been a leg sticking out from underneath the car. Since he was on the opposite side of the road and his visibility was diminished due to the snow and wind, Mr. Zymola decided to circle back on St. Andrew Rd. and get out of the truck and take a better look. As he got closer to the car, he noticed that it was indeed a leg and a young lady, that he estimated was between 18 and 25 years old, was stuck underneath the car. It appeared that the car had rolled back on her as she tried to push it free through the snow and the lady had been there for longer than a half an hour in the freezing and snowy conditions.
Mr. Zymola immediately got on his radio and reported a pedestrian under the car to his supervisor and asked him to call 911. After that, Jim assessed the situation and realized that he was not going to be able to free her by himself, so he did all he could to comfort the young lady, gave her his gloves and covered her with his coat for added warmth until more help arrived.
Fortunately, within a matter of minutes, Mr. Zymola’s supervisor, Brad Rands showed up followed closely behind by fellow Street Department employees Chris Woodman, Ron Chandler and Clint Wilson as well as Firefighters Mitch Brittain and Jacob Sempeck. As a group and with the adrenaline of the moment, they proceeded to lift the car just enough that the victim could be pulled out from underneath the car by Mr. Sempeck.
The young lady, who we are not naming due to HIPPA and privacy rules, was taken by rescue squad to a local hospital and is expected to make a full recovery thanks to the keen eye of Jim Zymola and the brave and heroic efforts of him along with Mr. Rands, Mr. Wilson, Mr. Chandler, Mr. Woodman, Mr. Brittain and Mr. Sempeck who stabilized the victim and transported her to the hospital.
Jim Zymola has only worked for the Bellevue Street Department since November of 2020. When asked by the City Human Resources Director Ashley Decker, “What was going through your mind at the moment he came upon the young lady stuck underneath her car”, Mr. Zymola humbly credited the training and advice he received from his co-workers to deal with these types of situations and was glad that he was in the right place at the right time to help out in this situation. The City of Bellevue is extremely proud of the Street Department and snow removal crews and the training they receive along with the advice they share with each other. We are happy that Mr. Zymola’s instincts took over and he along with the help of his supervisor and co-workers could help rescue and save this young lady’s life.
Bellevue Mayor Rusty Hike and City Administrator Jim Ristow recognized this group of city employees at a ceremony on Tuesday morning in the City Council Chambers and presented them a small token of appreciations for their life saving actions.
Pictured from left to right: City Administrator Jim Ristow, Bellevue Firefighter Mitch Brittain, Bellevue Firefighter Jacob Sempeck, Clint Wilson from the Bellevue Street Department, Chris Woodman from the Bellevue Street Department, Jim Zymola from the Bellevue Street Department, Brad Rands from the Bellevue Street Department and Mayor Rusty Hike. (Not pictured, Ron "Spud" Chandler)