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When cars and semi-trucks got stuck in the snow, a Tennessee trooper grabbed a shovel and started digging

When semi-trucks and cars stalled out, Anderson County Trooper Jacob Wiser literally grabbed a shovel and started digging people out to keep traffic moving.
Credit: THP

ANDERSON COUNTY, Tenn. — Sunday was not the kind of day you wanted to be out driving out on the roads. A few people learned that the hard way after getting stuck in the snow and ice, but Tennessee troopers and road crews pulled out all the stops to get them moving again and keep the interstates open.

The heavy snow made travel especially difficult on Interstate 75 in Campbell County from Caryville into Kentucky on Sunday, even with TDOT plows doing rounds to clear and salt the roads. I-75 had to be temporarily closed several times through the day as crews responded to stuck vehicles, crashes, and impassible conditions.  

The Tennessee Highway Patrol said one trooper worked particularly hard to keep traffic moving on snow-covered portions of the interstate.

When semi-trucks and cars got stuck in the snow, Anderson County Trooper Jacob Wiser literally grabbed a shovel from a TDOT worker and started digging people out between Stinking Creek and Jellico. 

Credit: THP

"I nabbed his shovel and was able to dig out two big rigs and get them straightened up and out, and plenty of smaller passenger cars as well," Wiser said. "If I had to estimate, there was anywhere between 15 and 20 vehicles, you know, stuck... a couple tractor trailers starting to jackknife. Common problems when you have ice going up the mountain."

By the end of his shift, THP said Wiser dug out 14 vehicles that got trapped trying to traverse treacherous conditions on I-75 -- including two semi-trucks and 12 passenger vehicles. THP said he also responded to two crashes.

Credit: TDOT

Wiser said many of the drivers were trying to head home to Kentucky and Ohio. Many didn't think the shovel would work, but he said they were very thankful when he came to dig them out.

"It was a crazy night. It wasn’t in the original [job] description when I signed up. But to see these folks out there stuck and a lot of them trying to get home, we do what we can," Wiser said. "I didn’t see very many locals out there, I will say that. Which you know around here everyone goes and gets their milk and bread and goes and sits in their house... and that’s a good thing."

Credit: THP

When they weren't digging people out or responding to crashes, first responders were also giving stuck semi-trucks a little push to get them past rough patches. Trooper Ryan Fletcher and EMA Jay Muncy came across a semi-truck stuck on I-75 and were able to get it moving again by using a truck to give it a push from behind:

By Monday, conditions on I-75 had improved significantly. TDOT said road crews continued to plow and salt the interstate from Anderson County to the Kentucky state line through the morning.