A month ago Living Snoqualmie and the Messa Group Real Estate asked the Snoqualmie Valley to nominate a ‘Snowmaggedon Hero.’ Someone who went above and beyond during February’s historic back-to-back snow storms to help out others.
In the end we received 24 nominations letters. The submissions were read and judged by representatives from Snoqualmie Valley Community Network, the SV Kiwanis Club and the SV Rotary Club, the SnoValley Chamber of Commerce, the Messa Group and Living Snoqualmie.
The Top 5 Snowmageddon Heroes were Mike Sippo, City of North Bend Public Works Department and Emergency Operations Incident Commander; Brian Krause, City of Snoqualmie Maintenance Operations Manager; Kevin Snyder, City of Snoqualmie mechanic; Aaron Geertgens and Jason Congdon from iRide Shuttle who helped get a resident to heart surgery in Seattle; and Sal Passantino, college student and volunteer snow driver/rescuer.
The top spot went to Sal Passantino, Jr. and runner up was Kevin Snyder.
Sal was nominated by his coworker at Mt. Si Sports & Fitness, Savannah Brown. The nomination read: Sal is an outdoorsy guy that has a big truck. He spent the entirety of the snow storm driving around to look for people who were stuck in the snow. He worked hard to pull as many people out as he could with his truck. I am not exaggerating when I say he spent hours each day and all through the night just driving around and helping anyone he could find. He did this free, purely out of the kindness of his heart… He pulled dozens of cars and trucks out of very tricky situations. His truck took a beating. because of this he had to order new parts because the strain he put on it caused them to break. When his truck was no longer able to do the work, he rode his snowmobile around North Bend also looking for people who needed help. He stumbled across a man who was stuck. This man had diabetes and said that his blood sugar was getting low. Sal rode his snowmobile to the store and bought this stranger a Snickers bar and rode back to him so he would be okay…I was so impressed by his actions…. His selfless actions were amazing to see, especially because he is so young.
Kevin Snyder was nominated multiple times. One of the letters from his wife read: My story actually starts before Snowmaggedon: Super Bowl Sunday. Kevin was called into work… missing part of the Super Bowl. He already had all the trucks, sanders and plowers prepared and ready to go as to ensure those vehicles kept working…. Kevin also drives drives one of the plow trucks. He got home sometime around 1AM… Due to snow between Sunday and Wednesday, he either worked late to fix/repair/service the trucks/sanders/plowers or he was called in after hours. Snowmageddon hit Thursday for him. He worked all day Thursday, overnight and all day Friday – that’s about 55 hrs straight – nobody is sure how he does it – I call it ‘Emergency Mode.’ He came home Saturday at 11AM, made sure I was okay and ready for possible snow-in or power issues, slept until 4pm and went back to work. Came home Tuesday at 8am, showered and went back to work…. what Kevin was doing this whole time was making sure the trucks could keep running. This meant chaining them up, shoveling them out when they got stuck, and even having to rescue a couple less experienced drivers… None of the city drivers had ever experienced snow like this. Kevin came home Thursday, Valentine’s Day. This was the first time we slept in the same bed together since Wednesday, February 6th.
In the end, the Messa Group opted to give away two vacations: one to Sal and one to Kevin. Sal will also receive $500 from the Snoqualmie Valley Rotary to put toward transportation or other vacation essentials. Mike, Brian, Aaron and Jason will receive $25 gift certificates to local businesses courtesy of the SnoValley Chamber of Commerce.
We would like to extend our thanks for all the nomination letters received and recognize everyone that stepped up to help in some way or another. All sorts of heartwarming stories were shared. They were inspiring to read. We want to give special recognition to the hard work of city employees – many who worked 60+ hours of unpaid overtime to help North Bend and Snoqualmie streets recover from the historic snow event. You are all very much appreciated.