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Once a tank commander, Tucson man now patrols Arizona highways

DPS Freeway Patrol helps stranded drivers
Posted at 11:08 AM, Aug 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-02 14:08:01-04

Most days at work for Frank Cuen start with a walk around his truck to make sure it’s ready to roam the interstates of southern Arizona.

For 22 years, he’s worked for the Department of Public Safety’s Freeway Service Patrol, monitoring highways for stranded drivers.

Inside the many compartments he has just about everything he needs to help a stranded driver: jumper cables, a car jack, tanks to fill a flat tire with air, water, and another set of jumper cables – just in case.
“I can change a tire in four minutes,” he said. It was the only boastful thing he said while we rode along with him. 

We left the DPS offices near the Tucson airport and headed north on westbound I-10, it wasn’t long before Cuen spotted an 18-wheeler pulled over near Cortaro Rd.

"How are you? I'm Frank with DPS motorist assist, you OK?” He asked. A groggy driver told him he pulled over to rest and he’ll find a safer spot to park.

Cuen says most of the time he finds truckers taking a break. He effortlessly makes small talk with drivers to check on them before heading on down the road.

He seems born to do this but admits he's most comfortable in a tank. Cuen was in the Army for two decades. When he got out he still wanted to serve and found the Freeway Service Patrol; first as a volunteer, now as an employee.  

“I enjoy making people happy because you never know what you may come across and people are usually bummed out,” he said.

Behind the wheel he's ready for anything, including dangerous dust storms that plague this stretch of freeway. His advice for staying safe in the storm is simple, “Pull to the side and take it easy.”

But if you end up in trouble watch for Frank because he’s watching for you.