To hear Marcor Remediation’s Project Superintendent Jonah Tebben tell the story, you’d think there was nothing special about his team’s heroic actions. But to hear the tale from the perspective of the engineering consultant who came upon the scene of a horrific accident in the California Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, you’d really appreciate the courage of the crew who saved the life of a man whose truck had crashed more than 150 ft. down the side of a mountain.
The bottom line is that if the Marcor Remediation crew on its way to a project at Leviathan Mine in central California had not rushed down the hill and helped pull the driver who had suffered terrible injuries from the demolished cab, the victim would almost certainly have not survived.
“I am very honored and fortunate to be working with these guys,” said Britt Howard, the on-site health and safety coordinator of Geomatrix Consultants. “They showed true courage in a dangerous situation, thinking only of saving the man’s life.”
The story began early in the morning at the end of July, as six Marcor workers were driving up Monitor Pass on their way to a groundwater remediation project at Leviathan Mine. An 18-wheeler heading downhill had fallen off the side of Highway 89 in the middle of the night before, and the driver had been pinned in the sleeper section of the cab for approximately eight hours with two broken legs and other serious injuries.
When the crew arrived on the scene, they saw a truck upside down and completely separated from the trailer. The trailer also was upside down, with debris spilling out, burying most of the cab.
“The highway patrol had arrived at the scene just before the Marcor men, and they assumed the driver was dead because of how badly the cab of his tractor was smashed,” Howard recounted.
The Marcor team of Tebben, Bjorn Sieben, Miguel Lugo, Troy Buendia, James Frost and Tom Frost ran down the side of the hill.
“We began moving the debris that had nearly buried the cab and starting calling to see if the driver was alive,” said Tebben. “What we found was a man whose head was split open from his eyebrow to the middle of the back who was lying by the back of the sleeper section of the cab, with his legs lying across the driver side and his head poking out near the passenger side of the sleeper. The whole front of the passenger side was gone.”
The men started by giving what first aid they could to the victim to get some of the bleeding under control, and talking with the man to help keep him conscious and responsive.
The crew also saw diesel fuel leaking from the truck, so they immediately disconnected the battery to remove the danger of a spark starting a fire or explosion.
Only about one third of the trailer remained, Tebben said.
“The fire department and ambulance finally arrived at the scene, but it was the Marcor crew who pulled the man out of the mangled truck. Once he was out of the truck, the paramedics helped stabilize him while the Marcor crew built a bridge across the creek to the area where a rescue helicopter was going to land to take the victim to a nearby hospital. They also carried the man to the helicopter on a backboard. The highway patrol was there, thanking the men for their quick and courageous response,” Howard added.
Tebben was later contacted by the victim’s girlfriend who thanked him and his crew for their heroism and to tell them that the man is slowly recovering from the serious injuries. Tebben also was thanked by Marcor General Manager Scott Williams.
“I want to say with much emotion that I am very proud and honored to be a leader of people with such courage. Thank you to each and every one of them for their part in this very heroic situation. You are an inspiration to me and a clear example of the kind of people we have at Marcor,” he said.
Tebben’s crew is working at Leviathan Mine on a groundwater remediation project as well as on the installation of permanent water treatment system in the inactive sulfur mine.
Marcor Remediation, a specialty contracting company founded in 1980 with a current staff of 700 and headquarters in Hunt Valley, Md., performs a full range of environmental contracting services. These include industrial cleaning, asbestos and lead hazard abatement, mold remediation, plant/process decommissioning and demolition, soil and groundwater remediation, emergency spill response, gun range remediation, storage tank management, and restorative cleaning projects.