OTE - Oregon Travel Experience

Abandoned and terrified

Posted on: December 21st, 2011 by Madeline MacGregor in News & Press, Roadways and Waysides | No Comments

When it’s your safety that counts; December 21, 2011Photo of the restroom where a frightened and abandoned woman hid all night until a supervisor found her.

Oregon Travel Experience rest area supervisors are almost never surprised by unexpected events, especially when thousands of motorists travel the I-5 corridor every day. Yet every so often, a situation arises that stands out for OTE employees.

Manzanita rest area Assistant Supervisor Kevin Smolich had just started his early morning shift when a Josephine County Sheriff’s deputy drove up. The deputy told Kevin there was an attempt to locate (ATL) on a missing woman from Glendale, Oregon. The woman’s brother had called the police and reported that his sister had not returned home the previous night.

Kevin began to clean restrooms, keeping an eye out for anything unusual. He noticed the disabled companion restroom was occupied, but since this is not outside the norm, he did not try to open the door. When he returned a little while later, the door was still locked. Kevin knocked softly a couple of times, but no one answered. He finally shouted out to see if someone was inside.

Cautiously, a woman answered back, but was unwilling to unlock the door. Kevin identified himself as an Oregon Travel Experience employee and asked the woman if she had been out of touch with her family since the previous night. She replied “Yes!” and opened the door. Kevin could see she was shivering.

After reassuring the woman that police were searching for her, Kevin guided her into the Manzanita office and notified law enforcement. As the woman drank hot coffee and warmed herself, she told Kevin how a seemingly innocent date had gone terribly wrong.

Her male companion pulled into the rest area at midnight, forced her from his car, and drove off with the woman’s purse, cell-phone and coat. Frightened, and with no way to contact her brother, she locked herself in the restroom where she remained for six long hours.

This story is one of many from rest area supervisors, where OTE employee’s efforts have helped change a potentially dangerous event into a happy resolution for family members of stranded or desperate motorists.

Kevin made sure a terrified woman received solace and warmth. Perhaps all a part of the usual job description if you were to ask Kevin about it, but much, much more if you were to ask someone whose personal safety had been at risk.

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