Like countless other times, DTE lineman Stevan Skorupski had safely and quickly repaired a fallen power line and prepared to leave the site.
Before Skorupski could pull away from the block in the city of Warren, a delivery man got his attention. There was thick smoke spewing from a hole in the roof of a house, and there could be people inside.
Rather than wait for help, Skorupski and the delivery man kicked in the front door. Skorupski entered the burning house – alone – where he saw an elderly woman trapped in a smoke-filled hallway. He rushed through thick smoke, barely able to breathe, to rescue the woman from the house. Skorupski later said that he felt he had reached his absolute physical limit and was on the verge of being overcome by smoke.
After rescuing the 90-something-year-old woman, he kept her warm in his truck until help arrived. The incident occurred on Dec. 15, 2016, which was one of the coldest days of last winter.
Skorupski was just one of six DTE employees who won Alex Dow Awards, the company’s highest distinction. Other winners were Brad Boyd, Kurt Danowski, Jerry Peterson; Lynne Goodman and Dan D’Avanzo. The awards are named in honor of the second president of Detroit Edison, who was a utility industry pioneer.
Another remarkable achievement involved Boyd, Danowski and Peterson on the morning of Aug. 2, 2016. The cable pulling operators had worked for 21 hours straight – their regular shift followed by an emergency overtime job.
The exhausted crew finished the complex job in Melvindale and headed back to their center in Detroit. Traveling on Interstate 94 during morning rush hour traffic, they encountered a serious accident right in front of them.
A car and pickup truck were trying to merge into the same lane. The truck swerved left, hitting the median wall and landing on its passenger side.
The crew pulled to the left side of the road behind the upturned truck. Boyd and Peterson approached the truck, found an elderly man trapped inside, and called 911. They immediately noticed that the vehicle was leaking fuel.
They quickly flipped the truck right side up and pulled the driver to safety. Danowski had turned on his emergency flashers and placed orange cones on the highway to divert traffic and prevent another accident. After the rescue, the employees directed traffic until a state trooper arrived.
As this dramatic scene was unfolding on a Detroit freeway, another Alex Dow Award winner was serving DTE customers in an entirely different capacity. Lynne Goodman was hard at work in Monroe County, leading the team that enabled the Fermi 2 nuclear plant to produce clean, affordable, carbon-free energy for our customers for another 20 years.
She was the eyes, ears, heart, and soul of the grueling nearly three-year project that led to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approving Fermi 2’s license renewal request in December 2016.
Goodman steered Fermi 2 through seven weeks of audits and inspections with dozens of NRC inspectors and others, reviewing documentation, performing plant and field walk downs and coordinating with engineering and environmental personnel.
She also prepared staff members for hearings in Washington, D.C. before the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards.
Finally, last Christmas Eve, while many employees were enjoying time with family and friends, field supervisor Dan D’Avanzo was solidifying his reputation as the “go to” person after-hours and in emergencies.
DTE was among the emergency crews called to a massive sinkhole threatening homes in a Fraser neighborhood. As five DTE poles were falling into the sinkhole, D’Avanzo had to come up with a plan to safely restore and maintain power to about 500 customers over the holidays.
To complicate matters, because of the holidays there was limited support staff available to help execute an emergency plan. D’Avanzo and his team were determined to make something happen – and they did.
Over the three-day period, D’Avanzo worked directly with Macomb County officials to make the sink holes safe, protect the public and keep the power on.
D’Avanzo set up backup generators at a senior citizens’ facility and other strategic sites. The team built a line to feed customers in the area. They worked quickly to get customers restored the same day.