Credit: Brian Guinan

Troublemen Help Rescue Injured Truck Driver

On their way to work near Barstow, these SCE employees came across a traffic accident and helped free an injured driver from his overturned semitruck.
Photo Credit: Brian Guinan

Troublemen Brian Guinan and Steven Purtle were driving to Ludlow on Highway 40 on a recent morning to help install new electrical service for a road project when they noticed a large dust cloud come into view. Thinking it might be a fire, they drove closer.

The dusty air was caused by a semitruck that had flipped over into a steep median between the north and southbound lanes of the freeway with its haul of broccoli strewn about. The two Southern California Edison troublemen from the Barstow District could tell the accident was recent. They stopped to see if they could help, safely positioning their truck so the vehicle’s lights could help better illuminate the area.

“We were one of the first one’s there and we knew they needed help,” said Guinan, noting that vehicles were travelling at about 70 mph on both sides of the freeway.

SCE troublemen came to the aid of an injured truck driver on Highway 40 near Barstow.
SCE troublemen came to the aid of an injured truck driver on Highway 40 near Barstow.

Some passersby were able to free the truck’s passenger from the vehicle, but they were unable to free the driver. His left leg was stuck under the steering wheel and his head was pinned outside the open window by a metal bar. He couldn’t move and his face was up against the dirt, making it difficult for him to breathe, although he was lucid.

Guinan, a former Navy medic, and Purtle first tried to dig a hole under the driver’s head to allow him to breathe better, but the effort was futile. They decided that cutting a hole in the fiberglass roof of the truck would allow them better access to the driver and a chance to free him.

“We cut a hole in the fiberglass on top, about 3 by 4 feet, to get to his body so we could get access to him,” said Guinan, who noted they used a grinder to make the hole. “We also had to cut the brackets on the seat.”

An ambulance soon arrived and paramedics encouraged the troublemen to continue what they were doing to help free the driver.

“They told us to get him free so he could breathe, but to try not to move him,” said Purtle.  

We were just trying to do the right thing." 

Brian Guinan, SCE Troubleman

Their heroics enabled the driver to better position his head so he could get some air. Guinan held the driver’s head in his lap for several minutes until the fire department arrived at the remote area about 45 minutes after the troublemen first reached the scene of the accident.

The fire department took over and used the Jaws of Life to extricate the driver from the vehicle.

“The driver walked away and brushed himself off,” said Purtle. “And he gave Brian a big hug,” noting that both the driver and the passenger were taken to the hospital for treatment.

Guinan and Purtle then headed to their work assignment to help a customer install new electrical service.

The incident was the first time Guinan and Purtle had come across someone needing help during a traffic accident while on the job. For their heroics, the troublemen were recently awarded with a safety Gold Award.

Asked if he feels like a hero, Purtle hesitated for a moment, but admitted, “maybe a little bit.”

“We were just trying to do the right thing,” said Guinan.