CARLSBORG — The quick action and life-saving heroism of two linemen has been recognized with the Clallam County Public Utility District’s inaugural Heroes Program awards.
Joe Helvey, a journeyman lineman, pulled a woman to safety seconds before she fell to her death from one of the Eighth Street bridges in Port Angeles, said Mike Howe, PUD spokesman.
Sam Parks, a line foreman, came to the aid of a fellow driver who had suffered a medical emergency and driven off the road. The man, another PUD employee, survived and now says that he owes his life to his co-worker, Howe said.
Helvey and Parks received recognition for their acts of heroism during 2016 shortly after the PUD commissioners passed a resolution establishing the Heroes Program on Nov. 21.
The resolution establishing the program says that “throughout the history of the PUD there has been occasions where a PUD employee has acted meritoriously, above and beyond the normal course of duty; and, the district wishes to have a permanent program to recognize these efforts so they may be celebrated with public recognition.”
All three of the commissioners individually expressed their pride and gratitude for the efforts of the two linemen.
Helvey noticed a woman climbing over the 4-foot-6 wall railing on one of the two Eighth Street bridges the morning of April 27.
At least four people have jumped from the bridges, which are about 100 feet high, since they were reopened in 2009, and police have talked numerous people out of doing so.
Helvey slammed on his brakes and ran to the woman as other cars also screeched to a halt. By the time he reached her, she had gone over the railing and was hanging on but was ready to let go.
“Joe … grabbed her wrist and pulled with all that he had,” Howe said. “As she was brought to the sidewalk, others were there to console and hold her. The local law enforcement soon arrived and took control.
“Joe gathered himself and walked away quietly back to his vehicle,” Howe said. “After arriving at his work site, he spoke of the incident and what had happened.”
At about 6:30 p.m. Aug. 29, one of the PUD’s employees suffered a medical event and lost consciousness while driving on Old Olympic Highway near Carlsborg Road, Howe said.
As he crossed into oncoming traffic, he just missed one vehicle and drove into a small ditch along the road, ran through a field fence and stopped in front of another fence.
Parks was on his way home with his grandson. He was two cars behind and stopped to render aid.
As he approached the wrecked vehicle, he recognized the PUD employee. He automatically went into action along with others who soon arrived.
The doors were locked, so the windows were broken to get to the man. After finding no heartbeat, Parks started CPR.
Parks “said that he reacted instinctively. Two quick breaths and then the compressions,” Howe said. “Medical aid arrived, and between the two, they worked on him. When the aid left for a defibrillator, Sam worked on the victim by himself.”
Parks and his co-workers had just gone through the annual CPR/AED training as required by the district three weeks earlier, Howe said.
“Our employee survived and said that he owes his life to his co-worker,” Howe said.
For additional information about the Clallam PUD, visit www.clallam pud.net.