LOLO — A postal carrier whose sport utility vehicle hit a rock and careened upside-down into Lolo Creek on Monday afternoon was back on the job Tuesday — delivering the mail that was fished out of the creek.
“Man, she’s a tough gal,” said Lolo Postmaster Jeannee Mooney, who said she spent Tuesday morning fielding phone calls from people along the woman’s route, who were worried about her.
“They seem to love her out there. They’re very supportive. And they’re in disbelief when I tell them she’ll be back there today,” Mooney said Tuesday.
The woman, who has driven a route from Lolo to Powell, Idaho, six days a week for 12 years, survived the icy plunge with only a few scratches and bruises, according to the Montana Highway Patrol. Her Honda CR-V blew a tire after hitting a rock, and went over the guardrail and into the creek near milepost 18 on U.S. Highway 12 at 2:18 p.m. Monday.
Passers-by pulled her from the vehicle and wrapped her in a sleeping bag. Postal workers waded into the creek and retrieved the mail from the vehicle, and fished a few pieces out of the creek.
“Some of it was a little wet,” Mooney said.
U.S. Postal Service spokesman Pete Nowacki said those pieces were spread out on a counter to dry, a process helped along by fans.
“Something like that happening, of course, it’s people first and mail second. We’re really, really thankful that the carrier is OK,” he said. “The mail is OK, too.”
A few pieces were so damaged that they’ll be returned with a letter of explanation, he said. “But the vast majority of outgoing is on its way. … Everything that didn’t get done yesterday will be done today.”
Mooney stressed once again that the carrier is the Post Office’s first priority. But, in full spirit of the Postal Service motto — “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds” — she added that “it’s very important for us to protect our mail. We can’t let anything happen to our mail.”
On Monday, they didn’t.
Missoulian reporter Gwen Florio can be reached at 523-5268 or email@example.com.