As a local area businessman, on Wednesday, Sept. 27 at approximately 1:30 p.m., I was driving to my father’s dealership office for a business meeting in Ashe County by way of NC Hwy 16 North just before the Glendale Springs Community from my residence in Wilkesboro. All of a sudden my company car completely shut down with apparent total electrical and/or fuel system failure with no good way for me to safely maneuver my car out of the way of oncoming traffic coming form both directions. There were huge semi-trailer 18 wheelers, large construction dump trucks, big logging trucks, concreted trucks, etc coming my way during the busiest time of day, especially since the intersection of NC Hwy 163 and Hwy 221 was/are closed due to construction.

I was very concerned and alarmed, for not only my sake but also for oncoming motorists, while wondering if this was going to be it, would this be the end with maybe a big rig 18-wheeler slamming into the back of my car or even worse perhaps accidentally badly hurting another innocent motorist or a car pill up or something to that effect. I remember thinking well, I guess, I’ll probably have to coast/steer my car off of the side shoulder of the highway for the greater good and safety of everyone else. I was literally strained on a dangerous steep hill with my car’s hazard lights on which were not working too well, if even working much at all, due to the electrical system failure.

After some time, I was really glad to see a state trooper with the North Carolina Highway Patrol pull up, which I was later told by his department was/is Trooper D.H. Parunak. The trooper was really great, very nice, incredibly professional and he physically put himself and his patrol car in potential harm’s way on a dangerous part of Hwy 16 at a busy time of day in order to help me and other motorists on that stretch of the highway. Parunak made it possible for me to be able to safely steer my company car down to the bottom of the steep hill to a clearing without endangering any motorists and where I could easily get a tow truck. Parunak even asked me if I had a cell phone and if I needed any additional assistance and I expressed to him that I was very glad to see him and that I really appreciated his help.

By professionally taking charge of a really unsafe situation and turning it into a safe situation, Parunak single-handedly very likely prevented a serious accident from occurring involving at a minimum, myself, and perhaps other motorists. Simply said, Parunak very likely saved my life and perhaps also the lives of other fellow motorist.

This grateful motorist is very thankful to the trooper. As I said to my girlfriend and my family after arriving home safely, I was extremely impressed and very grateful to the trooper for his outstanding assistance, strong devotion to public safety and his tremendous professionalism.

At a time in America when good members of the law enforcement community are not often recognized, I wanted to take the time as an appreciative private citizen to thank and to compliment the superb professionalism of Parunak.

The North Carolina Highway Patrol has an excellent and outstanding member in Parunak!

Christopher L. Hurley


Tom Mayer is the executive editor of Mountain Times Publications, a group of five news newspapers, six websites and one monthly periodical in the High Country of North Carolina.

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