AUGUSTA, Kan. (KWCH) A trip to the Presto Gas Station in Augusta took a turn in a different direction for Bertha Marquez and her family.
(Source: Bertha Maria Marquez Amador)
Bertha Marquez said she and her family were on their way back home to Nebraska from Texas in early October when they stopped in Augusta for gas.
When they tried to leave, Marquez said the car wouldn't start after gassing up. She said the family was resolved they would sleep in their vehicle overnight and get the car fixed the next day.
That's when Sgt. Jeremy Johnson stepped in to help.
Marquez said he first tried to find the family a hotel room, but everything was booked. That's when he called in backup.
Major Ray Marbut, an off-duty firefighter, came and gave Marquez a jump. Then, he took the family to the fire station and offered them a safe place to stay.
"They were like heroes for us! I'm calling them angels, like God, you know because I'm Catholic, and I believe that there's angels around us," said Marquez.
Marbut said he didn't feel comfortable with the family sleeping in their car.
"They were just coming through town, they were stranded and that's just what we do," he said. "Our whole purpose in life is to protect the citizens."
But that's not all.
The family soon found out they didn't have a dead battery but it was a bad alternator.
Marbut took Marquez to buy the part she needed the next morning. Then, Lt. Tim Follis helped install the new alternator - at no cost - so the family could get back on the road safely.
Marquez offered the men a gift, but she said she got more than she expected.
"He hugged me and he said this is the best payment, that's all you need to pay, a hug that's all he asked me so I was in tears crying," she said.