Northeast Wisconsin first responders to be featured for I-41 crash response

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WINNEBAGO COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - Nearly a year after the more than 130-car pileup on I-41 in Winnebago County, the incident and its response is being featured on a nationally broadcast television show.

"Hearts of Heroes," hosted by meteorologist Ginger Zee, airs on WBAY at noon on Sunday. The episode showcases the stories of local first responders braving natural disasters while rescuing victims.

The local interstate pileup made national headlines.

"It was a very, very serious call, and it stressed all of us, and sometimes it's hard to talk about," says Town of Neenah Fire Chief Ed King.

And now ABC News Chief Meteorologist Ginger Zee, on her show "Hearts of Heroes," is explaining what happened back on February 24, 2019, while honoring the brave men and women who in bitter winter weather conditions answered the call.

According to the Winnebago County Sheriff's Office, the lead law enforcement agency that responded to the crash, the show sent a production crew to the area this summer. The crew interviewed sheriff's deputies, firefighters from the Town of Neenah, Gold Cross Ambulance paramedics and victims of the crash.

With just days until the show airs, there's a bit of a buzz about it. "I'm looking forward to it, and especially for our people," adds Chief King.

But the people who helped to rescue hundreds on the highway last February don't necessarily want any credit.

According to Capt. Lara Vendola-Messer with the Winnebago County Sheriff's Office, "Everyone that they talked to, everybody was so humbling and nobody wanted to talk about being a hero, and they were actually kind of embarrassed, and that's very typical and that's very common and none of us think of ourselves as heroes, it's just what we do, it's what we chose to do with our profession."

But "Hearts of Heroes," which is nationally broadcast, will bring well deserved, nationwide attention to the brave works of Northeast Wisconsin first responders.

"Hearts of Heroes" airs Sunday at 12 p.m. on WBAY channel 2-1.