HAZELWOOD, Mo. — A quick-thinking plumber helped save a driver trapped in an overturned dump truck on Monday.
Joe Bauer is a journeyman plumber and has been with Roto-Rooter for 20-plus years. He said he worked from the Hazelwood location, and he was on his way to a job when he noticed an accident on Page Avenue Extension, also known as Missouri Route 364.
“Happened to see the truck come to a stop, and it had slid down the medium about 150 feet,” said Bauer. “It was a huge cloud of dust, and that’s how I found it. I knew what had happened. Pulled up to block traffic and jumped out to help the guy.”
Bauer said he had stopped his vehicle to notify oncoming traffic, and two other people had joined in to help. They attempted to free the driver before first responders could get to the scene.
Bauer had used his winch to give the trapped driver room to breathe.
“At the time, the truck was spewing fuel everywhere, so we were standing in a pile of diesel fuel,” said Bauer. “Not that that’s super flammable but didn’t want to take a chance on the guy catching fire. Pulled him out, and pulled on it until it wouldn’t pull anymore. So, it was enough to actually relieve the pressure being exerted by the truck against his chest or his stomach.”
Roto-Rooter plumbers normally use the winch for heavy objects 2,500 pounds and under.
He stayed on site for over half an hour while fire and rescue figured out a way to release his pressure without causing issues for the trapped driver. Bauer said he credits the St. Charles fire, EMS, and police for pulling the man from the truck and saving him.
“He thought about the winch and was able to back it up and hook it up and pull the steering wheel off the man and really think outside the box,” said Chris Canale, GM of Roto-Rooter Services Company. “What an amazing thing. Very proud of him. Joe always likes to say he’s just a country boy. I’d say he’s a country with a little more smarts than that because that’s pretty amazing to me.”
Bauer thought about what he did.
“That is the exact right way to put it. It was a good deed. That was all it was,” he said.
Firefighters had to cut Bauer’s winch line, but he is getting a replacement. Bauer told FOX 2 that he completed two more jobs after saving that driver on Monday.