Pay it 4ward: Man thanked for helping tow cars during winter storm

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – It’s not often New Mexico is hit with a major snowstorm, but when it does happen, drivers need all the help they can get to make it home safely.

In this week’s Pay it 4ward, we’re introduced to the man who made sure one woman made it back to her family.

It’s no secret a lot of New Mexicans aren’t built for the cold.

“Most New Mexicans don’t really know how to drive in snow that well, because we don’t get it as often, especially here in the metro area,” said Kristen Kenneth, Pay it 4ward nominator.

So when this much snow rolls in, the roads can become a dangerous place, especially when you’re alone.

"It took me about three hours to get home that day. And I can’t tell you how long, how much longer I probably would have been there if it wasn’t for him," said Kenneth.

Kenneth was driving back to Rio Rancho during last month’s snowstorm and just like dozens of other drivers — she couldn’t make it up the hill on her own. Enter Michael Zirpel and his big white truck.

"He was just pulling people out, he would just attach the tow hook to the bottom of people’s cars. And he would just pull them to safety when they were just spinning stuck going nowhere,” Kenneth said.

She said it took him nearly an hour to get her up the hill, but she wasn’t the only one who needed help.

“He did that with countless other people. I would imagine he probably saved around 50 People that day,” said Kenneth. "That’s the reason why I wanted to nominate him, is he did an amazing thing. I don’t know how many people would have actually stepped up in that scenario. But he did.”

A meeting with Zirpel was soon arranged at Dutch Bros.

“Hi, Michael. Hi. So we contacted KOB 4 before and we are Paying It 4ward for what you did last week. So thank you so much. Here’s $400 And we appreciate you so much. Thank you. Thank you for what you did. Thank you,” said Kenneth.

“Oh thank you,” said Zirpel. “That is really surprising. Thank you.”

Zirpel says his dad is from South Dakota and taught him how to drive in the snow, but admits this storm was even a challenge for him.

“It was really coming down, and it was you couldn’t see nothing in front of you,” he said.

And that’s why he knew he had to stay and help.

“I was just out there helping. This has blown me away. I’m really surprised,” said Zirpel.

A little warmth on a very cold night.

"There’s amazing people out there and he helps me to realize that to be kind to one another,” said Kenneth.

“Everybody should just help everybody. It should be,” said Zirpel.