WYDOT worker recognized for heroic actions - KULR8.com | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

WYDOT worker recognized for heroic actions

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CODY, Wyo. -

A Cody man was recognized for heroism under dangerous conditions. Wyoming’s Department of Transportation gave Stuart Eckhardt the award for giving first aid to a fellow worker who was hit by a falling rock. Eckhardt wants people to know a lot of highway workers risk their lives to protect others.

The rock removal project started near the Buffalo Bill Dam after Labor Day, 2017. Workers had been blasting rocks off the cliff face and picking rocks from a cherry picker.

But, the climbers who stood on cliff faces, and pushed rocks down were the scalers.  They were specialists employed by a subcontractor from Oregon.  One of those specialists, Shane Powell, was getting ready to bring a drill up the rock face when.

 “And we heard somebody yell, 'Rock!'"

WYDOT veteran Stuart Eckhardt said that was a frequent warning on the site, but on this day, “It was like... ROCK! ROCK! ROCK!”

Eckhardt saw the breadbox-sized rock falling, and saw scaler Shane Moore standing in its path.

Eckhardt said, “And I saw him lurch forward like he was trying to run.”

But, the rock hit Powell in the head, and Eckhardt and others ran to help him.  Eckhardt was behind another worker.

He remembered, “From his reaction, I knew it was really bad. So, I turned right around and yelled, “Call 9-1-1”.

Eckhardt was trained in first aid, so he got his medical bag from his truck.  Even though he was in the same path of rockfall that Powell had been, he went to work to protect the man’s head wound.

The 28-year WYDOT veteran said, “I wanted to get it covered up because there were significant injuries.  We’re in a really dirty environment, and there were other rocks in the ditch that when he landed in the ditch that also made injuries.”

An ambulance finally came and took Powell to the Cody hospital, then he was transported to a Billings hospital for treatment.  The Oregon man died there 14 days after the accident.

Eckardt said, “It was a roller-coaster for us all. That is one of the things. I went and did my part, but there were many other people who rushed to his aid.”

WYDOT’s director Bill Panos gave Eckhardt the G. Clyde Larson Memorial Award in Cheyenne, for heroism.  

But the man with the award wants people to know, “There are people out there that are working really hard along the highway system, nationwide, that are doing a lot of things that aren’t seen to keep it safe.”

Eckhardt and fellow workers are asking permission to put up a memorial for Powell, and another scaler who died removing rocks from the same area almost 50 years ago.

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