A construction worker is alive Tuesday after West Des Moines firefighters put their lives on the line to save his. Construction along I-35 came to a halt Monday afternoon and work has yet to resume after two men were injured in a train accident.
“My first thought was like, wow how did he get there?”
Neil Weglarz is a five-year veteran of the West Des Moines Fire Department. Monday, he put his years of specialized rescue training to the test. He was harnessed and his team lowered him over the bridge to the construction worker who was holding on for dear life.
“He looked cold and he looked scared,” says Weglarz.
“The biggest fear was, was he going to be able to hold on long enough for us to make that rescue possible,” says Lt. Bill Post who headed up the rescue effort.
Stuck 40 feet off the ground, help was only minutes away. It came just in time.
“He could only move one arm because had the one arm pinned against the support of the bridge and his leg holding him up. With the cold, I don’t think he would have held on very much longer,” says Weglarz.
It took the team of firefighters less than 20 minutes to lower the pair to solid ground.
“He just kind of jumped and grabbed me so yeah, he was happy to get down,” says Weglarz.
The names of the men who were thrown when the construction lift they were working in was hit by a passing train have not been released. United Contractors says both workers are OK. Another man was thrown more than 200 feet, but did not sustain any life-threatening injuries.
The train accident is still under investigation. Several calls to Interstate Railroad were not returned today. Construction is on hold pending the investigation.