It was a normal day for Mike Bellow on Sept. 24, as he and his son, Steven, were traveling along Hwy. 90 near Raywood. They were on their way to a convention, traveling along the country road enjoying conversation.
Things took a dramatic turn as Bellow witnessed an accident in front of him. A transit mixer was hit head-on by a motorist traveling in the opposite direction. The impact was horrendous and fire soon began to engulf the vehicles.
As Bellow watched the growing flames, Steven pointed out that the driver of the transit mixer was trying to get himself out of his vehicle. Not thinking of the danger he was putting himself in, Bellow ran to the vehicle and helped the driver escape the fiery wreckage.
Three months later, on Dec. 21, representatives from Knife River Corporation, the company whose driver was involved in the accident, gathered in Beaumont to honor Mike Bellow with an Award of Heroism from Knife River.
"We at Knife River are appreciative for the actions of Mr. Bellow that likely saved the life of one of our employees during a tragic situation," said Knife River General Manager Larry Rougeau. "It's not just anybody that would stop. I have seen many other accidents through the years where some people may stop but others tend to ignore them and keep on going. We feel blessed as a company to be recipients of his actions."
Knife River has given out numerous hero awards to employees for actions that were deemed to be acts of heroism, but the award to Bellow marks the first time in the history of the company that the award has been presented to someone outside the company.
Roy Kirkpatrick, South Region President of Knife River, said many people are afraid of liability issues, unsure of the situation, and unsure of what to do in times of crisis.
"I think his actions are a testament of who Mr. Bellow is," he said. "We perceive our jobs as an extended family, so it was one of our extended family members whose life he could very well have saved. This is something that we don't take lightly.
"Acts like this and saving a life are really taken into consideration, especially at this time of year. When you realize what could have happened and what could have taken place, had Mr. Bellow not come to his aid, this driver's family may be going through the holidays without him."
Bellow was joined by his family as the award was presented in the ceremony.
"I am grateful to God that I was able to help pull him out," he said. "I thought a lot about liability, but he was trying to get himself out of the wreckage and wanted help. I figured if God spared him it was my job to help get him out. That is what I tried to do."