By MIKE GUTWIG
IBEW Local 48 recognized three members for heroic actions—for saving the lives of two ironworkers after a roof collapse on a construction project in summer 2020.
At the union’s Dec. 15 meeting, members Kevin Jorgenson and Keoki Hookano each received the IBEW Life Saving Award, and Sergey Elikh received the IBEW Certificate of Recognition. The Life Saving Award is presented by the international union to any member who, by direct personal involvement, saves the life of a fellow human being. The Certificate of Recognition is awarded when a member did not meet the criteria for the Life Saving Award but deserves special recognition for their presence of mind, prompt action and genuine concern for a fellow human being.
On June 10, 2020, just after 10:30 a.m., Iron Workers Local 29 members James Sackett, 34, and Justin Rothgeb, 45, fell when a roof partially collapsed at the Portland General Electric operations center under construction in Tualatin. Both men were hospitalized at Oregon Health and Science University. Rothgeb underwent back surgery and was in a trauma unit in serious condition for several days, and Sackett was in a medically induced coma and in critical condition at the time.
Both men are slowly recovering, but are said to be unlikely to ever return to work in the trade.
“If it were not for the quick response of our members, and life saving techniques used including first aid an AED, these workers may have had a drastically different outcome,” said Local 48 rep Joshua Carter in presenting a plaque to Hookano at the Local’s December union meeting. “These members not only acted swiftly to save the lives of these two individuals, but also bravely, because of the unknown dangers that may still be present from the collapsing steel.”
Jorgenson and Elikh were unable to attend.
“I am personally very thankful that we have such well-trained members in the field, and this is a true attestation to the degree of that training. “
“Both of these members are very humble and made it very clear that they would absolutely do it again, but that an award was not necessary,” Carter said. “But all of us need to recognize the good will of others and the amazing things we can do when we look out for one another.”
HOW TO HELP
To help the two injured ironworkers with expenses, an account has been set up at Ironworkers USA Credit Union. Visit ironworkerscu.org/donate
What happened in the accident
According to an investigation by Oregon OSHA, the June 2020 accident at the PGE site in Tualatin resulted from a failed connection between a column and a beam due to a lack of welding at the connection.
Local 29 members James Sackett and Justin Rothgeb, employed by steel erector Carr Construction, were heading to a break after hanging iron decking at roof level when the second story roof collapsed. They fell 25 to 30 feet. Both were wearing safety harnesses and were clamped to beams at the top of the structure, but the beams they were attached to fell.
Sackett landed on a steel girder, suffered head trauma and broken bones, and was in a coma for about a month. Rothgeb fell to a concrete floor sub-level and suffered a broken back, femur, and other injuries.