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Local 169 apprentice pulls worker from burning ash

Local 169 apprentice Patrick Morand gives a thumbs-up after being hospitalized.

Boilermakers’ brotherhood bond is lifesaving

BEING FELLOW BOILERMAKERS, Patrick Morand and Bill Tyler already had a bond before the fateful night of August 10. But when 100,000 pounds of hot ash buried 15 Boilermakers, Morand’s heroic efforts to pull his coworker to safety made that bond lifesaving. The workers fell victim to a collapsed dust catcher at U.S. Steel’s Great Lakes Works Plant on Zug Island in the Detroit River.

“Everything came down on us,” said Morand, 22, a Local 169 (Detroit) apprentice. “We were immersed in ash . . . for a decent amount of time. Enough to scare you.” He estimates it took 40 seconds of struggle to get his head above the ash.

“I heard something break loose,” said Tyler, a 20-year Boilermaker out of Local 456 (Rock Hill, South Carolina). “Then ash started pouring all over my head. I couldn’t release myself. I remember asking God for forgiveness and to save my life.”

And then Morand was there to pull him out.

Morand was about five feet away from Tyler and suffering serious burns himself when he heard Tyler yelling. He unhooked his own tangled harness and pulled Tyler to safety.

“He said anyone would have done what he did,” said Tyler. “I told him, ‘No, you’re my hero.’” Tyler’s wife, Nancy, agrees, saying how thankful they are that Morand took action.

While both men suffered injuries, Morand has been released from the hospital — along with the other Boilermakers who were injured — and is anxious to go back to work. Tyler, who endured the worst injuries in the incident, spent many weeks in the intensive care unit and is now home with his family.

Other unions, as well as Boilermakers from other locals in Michigan and Wisconsin, contributed funds to help Tyler and Morand weather the storm.

“The Boilermakers, the hall, the officers, the job stewards and the building trades, they have been so nice . . . we just want to thank everyone for their generosity,” said Nancy. The Tylers also commended the Detroit community and the medical staff in the ICU at Detroit Receiving Hospital.

As the Boilermaker creed expresses, each member is part of a Brotherhood, and brothers watch each other’s backs. Morand said no one would ever walk away from someone in Tyler’s situation. “I did what anyone would do to help someone who needed it.” And that selflessness is the true mark of a Boilermaker in action.

Adapted from a story by Marty Mulcahy, editor, The Building Tradesman. Photos by Marty Mulcahy.