'It was instant': We Energies crew saves driver who fell off embankment in California

’It was instant’: We Energies crew saves driver who fell off embankment in California


MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Nearly 50 Wisconsin crew members from We Energies went to Central California this month, helping restore power after big storms.

They're used to providing mutual aid, but the crews weren't expecting to save a life.

We Energies workers began their trip home from California on slippery roads.

Just outside Merced, the convoy witnessed something terrifying happen to another driver.

"The car hydroplaned in the median and then slingshotted across the road and launched off the embankment about 75 feet," said Jeb Loth, senior operations supervisor for We Energies.

Crews immediately pulled over, called 911, and sprang into action.

"The guys just simply ran down the hill, through the mud, and down below was about 3-4 inches of standing water," Loth said.

Powerline work can be dangerous, so We Energies crews are specially trained in first aid.

"It was instant. it was without thought, and they were down there without thought," said Mark Schmidt with We Energies.

They cut the driver out of her seatbelt - which they believe saved her life - and used a ladder to get her out of her car.

If the crews didn't see the crash, they believe she could have been stuck there for a long time.

"She said 'Oh, thank god you were all here,' and I said, we were just glad to be here," Schmidt said.

As they helped the driver back up the hill, crews witnessed another scare.

"Our rear truck was hit by two vehicles that also hydroplaned," Loth said, "So, guys came up the hill and immediately went to render aid to those two drivers."

Thankfully, everyone will be okay.

After emergency crews arrived, the convoy continued their trek home, grateful to have been in the right place at the right time.

"We were able to help one last person, or three people out in this situation. You come home feeling good," Loth said.

Loth said a big lesson learned by the team was importance of wearing a seatbelt and to call for help right away.

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