LPEA linemen honored for saving biker

It was a routine day for three linemen, until the ride back to the shop. Then it got a little bit different. 

(Left to right): Aaron Renner, Aaron Galloway and Jerry Sutherlin receive their Adult Lifesaver Awards.

Aaron Renner, an apprentice lineman at Tri-State member co-op La Plata Electric Association, recalled heading back to the co-op’s Durango, Colo., office with two colleagues. “A camper was blocking the southbound lane we were in. Jerry got there first, and they let him know there was a motorcycle rider trapped underneath.” 

Jerry is Jerry Sutherlin, a journeyman lineman with 11 years at LPEA, who discovered the motorcycle and camper had collided. “We were first. As soon as we got there it had just happened,” Sutherlin said. Authorities hadn’t arrived yet, but other passers-by immediately asked the linemen to help. 

“We said, ‘Sure we can help,’ Renner recalled. “We pulled the digger truck up close to the camper. We went ahead and put the outriggers down and stood by and waited for the fire department and medics to get there.” Emergency workers had sent word not to move the trailer until they arrived, so that they could immediately get an intravenous tube into the victim, to keep him from going into shock. 

When authorities arrived, the linemen started lifting the camper with their truck. “They wanted two forms of safety, so as soon as they had us start lifting the trailer they would have us lift it a few inches and build their cribbing up,” Renner told Electric Co-op Today. This went on a few inches at a time, though he said the LPEA crew was never worried about dropping the trailer. 

“We lift loads several times that weight, regularly,” Renner said. “That wasn’t a heavy load for that truck.” They lifted the trailer about 5 to 6 feet and medics were able to get the motorcyclist out, saving his life. 

For their efforts that October day, Renner, Sutherlin and journeyman lineman Aaron Galloway were recently honored by the American Red Cross with the Adult Lifesaver Award. 

“I don’t know if we really deserve it as much as some other people, but we were really honored and grateful for them to recognize us,” Galloway said. “We’re just regular people. We really were honored sitting in that room with the firefighters and EMTs who actually saved that guy’s life.”

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