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Iowa Department of Transportation: Doug Heidke

Doug Heidke
Transportation Mode:

Working for the Iowa Department of Transportation, Doug Heidke helped plow roads and keep up the highways across the state. In 2005, Iowa Governor Thomas Vilsack awarded Doug Heidke with the Governors Award for Meritorious Service, which is bestowed upon individuals who have "rendered expeditious service in a time of emergency."

Below is a summary of the events from the Iowa Department of Public Safety:

On January 20, 2005, at 1:30 a.m., Douglas Heidke, an equipment operator for the Department of Transportation, was on a snow run on Iowa Highway 141 when he first noticed a deer carcass on the side of the road. Next to that, however, he noticed a set of tire tracks in the snow that had not been there on his previous run 45 minutes earlier.

Doug stopped to check the situation out and what he found was 21-year-old Kevin Tiernan of Granger. Kevin had been driving his black Chevy Monte Carlo headed from Des Moines on 141. It appeared Kevin's car had first struck the deer and then apparently rolled several times down a steep ditch, coming to rest near a pond on the Beaver Run Golf Course.

Doug said the car was hard to see at first because the car was black and the lights were off, but as he was standing on the shoulder with his flashlight looking at the car, it appeared to be empty. He began scanning the ditch with his flashlight and noticed a person laying about 30 feet from the car. Doug went down to investigate and saw that the individual was dazed and bloody. He assured Kevin that help would be on the way.

Doug went back to his truck and radioed Claude Frazier, the garage operations assistant, who called the Iowa State Patrol. Then he took his coveralls down to the injured Kevin to help keep him warm until help arrived. When the Grimes Fire & Rescue arrived, they began their work to save Tiernan's life. It was stated later that if the DOT Driver hadn't seen Kevin Tiernan, he may have died lying in the snow all night with wet clothes.

Kevin was taken to a Des Moines Hospital with head and shoulder injuries and had shoulder surger on January 28th and was back attending classes at Iowa State University on Monday, January 31st.¹

As one of thousands of committed servicemen, his dedication to the job and the roads made it possible for countless Iowans to travel across the state both safely and efficiently, especially during those long snowy winters.

¹ Iowa Department of Public Safety

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