TOLLAND, Conn. — It’s not every day that a state trooper helps a Nobel Peace Prize winner. It’s even rarer when that person hails from your native country.
A Connecticut state trooper who is a native of Poland helped oversee the fixing of the flat tire of one of his country’s most famous figures -- former President Lech Walesa, the Hartford Courant reported.
Trooper Lukasz Lipert on Wednesday helped assist Walesa, 78, when the former Solidarity leader and president of Poland had a flat tire on Interstate 84 in Tolland, according to the newspaper. Lipert, 35, helped ensure safety at the site while Walesa’s tire was being changed. Walesa was a passenger in an SUV when it broke down on the interstate.
“You never know who you will meet as a state trooper,” the Connecticut State Police said in a Facebook post.
Walesa led the nationwide Solidarity movement in Poland in the 1980s that eventually toppled that country’s communist leaders in a 1989 election, according to The Associated Press. He received a Nobel Prize in 1983 and served as Poland’s president from 1990 to 1995.
Walesa had spoken in Hartford on Tuesday as part of his U.S. tour advocating aid for Ukrainian refugees who have fled their country since it was attacked by Russia on Feb. 24.
Lipert, who came to the U.S. when he was 18, said he chatted with Walesa in Polish about the history of their homeland and Walesa’s role in toppling the communist regime, the Courant reported.
“It was definitely a great opportunity to meet the man who had a voice during those times,” Lipert told the newspaper.
At first, Lipert said he thought a fellow trooper was playing a joke on him when he called for backup at about 11:30 a.m. EDT and said there was a former Polish president in a disabled vehicle.
“What are the odds there’s going to be a former Polish president on the side of 84 in Tolland,” Lipert told the Courant.
But after talking with Walesa on the phone and arriving at the scene, Lipert realized he had been talking with the real deal.
“Sure enough, it was him,” Lipert told the Courant.
“Trooper Lipert, a native of Poland, was beyond grateful for the opportunity to help such an influential individual, and briefly speak to him about the history of Poland,” the state police wrote on Facebook.
Walesa is scheduled to speak in Boston on Monday, the AP reported.
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