TODD COUNTY, S.D. (KELO) — It was a snow storm that lasted several days, dumping several inches to a few feet of snow on parts of KELOLAND.

Then came the wind.

As we’ve been sharing, last week’s winter storm left many people stranded — at home, in truck stops, on highways — and for one Todd County rancher, in a pasture.

Rodney Paulson, a rancher in his 70s, went out to feed his cattle Thursday afternoon and got stuck. Nearby neighbor Gus Gran tried getting to Paulson, but the blizzard conditions and deep snow were too much for his farm equipment to handle.

“I made it a mile from it, and I got stuck and it was getting dark. So I called my dad, and he come down with another loader tractor, and it took him two hours to dig me out,” Gran said.

Gus Gran says it took them five hours to get only three miles back home.

“And I said, Dad, I said, look, ‘Rodney’s going to have to stay there tonight.’ I said, ‘We can’t get to him.’ And so we called him and Rodney said, ‘That’s fine.’ You know, he had fuel, he had heat. That’s all that we could do,” Gran said.

On Friday, Gran did everything he could to find someone with equipment big enough to get to Paulson. Turns out the answer wasn’t far away.

This tracked tractor was loaded up on a semi trailer in Jackson, Minnesota bound for a dealership in California last week.

Gus Gran and Ryan Spartz
Photo Courtesy: Gus Gran

The trucker, Ryan Spartz, ended up on Highway 18 between Mission and Winner during the storm hoping to get across South Dakota. He came across cars stranded and blocking the road and decided to start helping people with the tractor.

“I bet I called the dealership about three or four times total because I just wanted to make sure it was ok for what we were doing with that thing. And they said, ‘yeah.’ No hesitation,” Spartz said.

But the rescues went beyond the people on the highway.

“It was just too good to be true,” Gran said.

“Yeah, it really was,” Spartz said.

Using the tractor, Spartz and Gran were able to reach Paulson, blowing through snow drifts along the way.

“It was a cakewalk,” Gran said.

“It was unbelievable what that thing went through,” Spartz said.

They made it to Paulson after he spent over 27 hours in his tractor and got him and the rig back home.

“I teared up. We pulled up there, I started crying. You can ask Ryan. I had tears in my eyes. It was a big relief to get him home, and it was just, it’s crazy. I mean, pictures don’t do this deal justice,” Gran said.

Gran and Spartz even helped more people, including DOT workers, get back to Mission as Highway 18 was impassable.

“We broke through the drifts for them and got them back home because they were stranded for about 27 hours,” Gran said.

“It was no problem to me to help out, get everybody out and save them. That’s a pretty serious event when you can’t leave and you can’t get help for yourself and your stranded somewhere,” Spartz said.

Photo Courtesy: Gus Gran

Spartz says the Fendt brand tractor used in the rescues was dropped off in California yesterday and is now cleaned up and on the dealership’s lot.