A heroic rescue

Superintendents and crew at the Club at Cordillera in Colorado jumped into action to help an endangered truck driver.


Overturned wrecked truck
An overturned truck full of rock startled the crew at The Club at Cordillera in Edwards, Colo. early in June. Photos courtesy of Luke Hoerig

Patrick O’Brien didn’t need to see it. He heard it. “A very loud boom,” he says.

A five-year GCSAA member and superintendent at The Club at Cordillera in Edwards, Colo., O’Brien had just sent the crew on its way to the course the morning of June 6 and was at the shop with assistant Caleb Conine and mechanic Frank Hutto planning for afternoon tasks.

That’s when the threesome overheard a thunderous roar merely 10 yards from the maintenance shop. Conine was the only one of them who caught a glimpse of the vehicle headed their way. They sprinted toward the noise and discovered a truck loaded with rock that had overturned near their doorstep after traveling down a hilly road toward their facility, which is 9,000 feet above sea level. “It must’ve been coming down with some speed,” says O’Brien, who immediately phoned 911 and surmised the driver may have had brake issues and was coming from a building project on a road adjacent to the club.

O’Brien says the three men reacted to the moment in classic superintendent fashion. “We’re quick on our feet. Problem solvers,” he says.

Caleb Conine, Patrick O'Brien and Frank Hutto
From left: Assistant superintendent Caleb Conine, superintendent Patrick O’Brien and mechanic Frank Hutto, who helped the imperiled driver and called 911.

There wasn’t time to waste. The driver was in a compromised position in more ways than one. He was pinned underneath the wreckage and the truck’s cab was crushed. As you might expect, he was in trouble. “His legs were pinched under there, wedged in, and his lower back and rear were halfway through the windshield,” O’Brien says. “He was struggling to breathe, pointing at his mouth.”

More peril awaited. “While we were digging to get him out with shovels, we noticed oil dripping onto his chest. We grabbed a fire extinguisher in case there were any sparks,” says O’Brien says. The men dug enough under the driver and were able to unfold him from the wreck and lay him on his back.

In about 15 minutes EMS and the fire department made it to the scene. Until they got there, O’Brien and crew managed to free his legs. “He kept saying, ‘thank you, thank you, thank you.’ You could tell he was scared,” O’Brien says. “We tried to calm him down.”

An hour after the man was taken to the hospital, O’Brien reflected. “It was like, ‘holy crap. … that just happened.’ It wasn’t normal. Later we heard he was going to be all right.”

Luke Hoerig, GCSAA Class A superintendent and one of the superintendents at the three-course club, was ecstatic to hear that. “The fire department said they saved that guy’s life,” says Hoerig, an 18-year association member.

Bottom line for O’Brien: “We were just trying to help a guy out.”

Howard Richman is GCM's associate editor.