Published June 16, 2022

Minot Area Residents Awarded NDHP Colonel’s Award for Excellence

Written by
The Dakotan
| The Dakotan
Pictured left to right: Lt. Ryan Panasuk, Tpr. Austin Hilzendeger, Dayson Dannewitz. Sgt. Jeremiah Bohn, and David Dannewitz [Photo: submitted]
Pictured left to right: Lt. Ryan Panasuk, Tpr. Austin Hilzendeger, Dayson Dannewitz. Sgt. Jeremiah Bohn, and David Dannewitz [Photo: submitted]

North Dakota was impacted by a devastating blizzard on April 13, 2022. The Northwest Region of the state was hit hard. The Minot area accumulating three to four feet of snow which was accompanied by wind gusts of up to 55 miles per hour. Roads going out of Minot were closed by the North Dakota Department of Transportation and the North Dakota Highway Patrol. Highway Patrol troopers were stationed at road closure gates around Minot to keep motorists from attempting to travel out of Minot.

On the night of April 13, two trooper were at the gate on Highway 83 going south out of Minot. Weather conditions at the time were much worse than anticipated, causing near zero visibility and covering the road with large snow drifts. Snow drifts were as high as the road closure gate, making it impossible for vehicles to get through. Because of the worsening conditions the troopers were pulled from watching the gate so they wouldn’t become stranded.

As the two troopers were leaving one of their patrol vehicles got stuck. While the troopers were digging the vehicle out, two snowmobile riders, David Dannewitz, Minot, and his 11-year-old son Dayson stopped to help shovel. Once snow was cleared from around the vehicle the trooper was able to drive it about 100 yards before becoming stuck again. The Dannewitzes again assisted with shoveling and then left once the vehicle was able to get moving again. The two troopers didn't make it very far before they couldn’t see the roadway. One trooper drove into the median causing his vehicle to get stuck, this time beyond what any shoveling could help. The trooper climbed into the other patrol vehicle and the two troopers proceeded to try and leave the area. A short distance later the second patrol vehicle became stuck after striking a snow drift, causing it to go into the median and become stuck beyond what any shoveling could help.

By this time the Dannewitzes had returned to help. After it was determined that shoveling the second patrol vehicle out wasn’t going to work, they offered to give the troopers a ride, on the snowmobiles, back into Minot. The troopers took them up on the offer since no snowplows were operating at the time to come to their aid. Several Minot area snowplows had become stuck as well, and the remaining plows were pulled from the road because of the weather conditions and the remaining plows not being able to keep up with the blizzard conditions.

Without the voluntary assistance of the Dannewitzes, the two troopers would have had to wait out the storm in their patrol vehicles. Their willingness to help out at the time and in such severe blizzard conditions allowed the troopers to get to a safe location to wait out the storm. For their efforts the Dannewitzes were awarded the Colonel’s Award for Excellence for their selfless act that day during the historical blizzard.

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