“We talk about brotherhood, and these guys’ actions show true brotherhood and what guys will do for each other.”– L-154 BM John Hughes
Quick action saves life
FOR LOCAL 154 (Pittsburgh) Boilermaker Jonathan Bach, making his way along the catwalk as he inspected compartments in the bag house was routine — business as usual at the William H. Sims, First Energy plant. Until it wasn’t.
Unknown to the 12-year Boilermaker, the door to one of the bag house cells was open, and as he approached, suction drawing through the opening yanked him into the dusty, pitch-black cell.
“At first, it didn’t seem like a big deal, but I realized pretty quickly that I couldn’t see the hole to get out,” says Bach.
He began yelling and trying to work his way toward an opening to get a foot out of the hole as suction and time worked against him.
“With all the dust, I knew I couldn’t last long, and if I couldn’t get out, I was thinking I would die.”
That’s when he felt someone snatch his ankle. What he didn’t know was that four of his fellow L-154 brothers were linked in a sort of human chain to pull him to safety. John McClurg, secured by his belt-loop by Rick Derrick and anchored by Ethan Boyd, had plunged in to grab one of Jonathan’s ankles. Scott Weaver, who had wrapped his own leg around a rail for security, had grabbed Jonathan’s other ankle.
The four had been behind Bach on the catwalk, and as soon as they saw him disappear into the cell, they sprang into life-saving action. It took all of them working together to pull Bach out.
“Thank God they were there,” says L-154 Business Manager John Hughes. “If he had been there by himself, no one would have known where he went.”
Though they are reluctant to call themselves heroes, Bach thinks otherwise.
“They’re my heroes for sure,” he says. Because of his brothers’ quick action, Bach escaped with minor scrapes and some bruising. “It seems like it all happened in a split second, and if they hadn’t been so fast, I don’t think I would have made it.”
Local 154 members honored the four and Bach with special plaques during their Labor Day picnic in Pittsburgh.
“We talk about brotherhood, and these guys’ actions show true brotherhood and what guys will do for each other,” Hughes says. “They didn’t even hesitate. And one thing I keep going back to is these guys are pretty young. These four young Boilermakers saved a life.”