PennDOT honors 2 employees who helped man trapped under tractor

Jacob Southwick and Nick Swatzler stand at the Big I Roundabout intersection improvement project site in Vernon Township. The two PennDOT interns were honored for their heroic actions that helped save a man who had been trapped under a tractor. (Submitted photo)
From staff reports

The Northwest Region of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation recognized two employees for assisting a man trapped under a tractor.

Summer interns Jacob Southwick of Titusville and Nicholas Swatzler of Franklin were awarded the Workplace Hero honor for their actions on July 16.

“Nick and Jacob are a great example of the high level of customer service PennDOT employees strive to deliver every day,” said Jim Foringer, district executive of the Northwest Region. “These two gentlemen were not only at the right place at the right time but were willing to take the right action,” Foringer said.

Southwick and Swatzler are first-year interns with PennDOT and have been working with Chad Tarr, Transportation Construction Manager 2, at the Big I Roundabout intersection improvement project in Vernon Township, Crawford County.

On July 16, the interns were en route to inspect the location of a construction-related detour sign when they came upon an emergency situation on Middle Road in Vernon Township.

A resident, who had been doing yard work, crashed his tractor into a ditch near the roadway. During the incident, the man, James Garfield, became pinned beneath the small farm equipment.

Southwick and Swatzler assisted another person on the scene in lifting the tractor and removing Garfield, who was later taken by ambulance for medical treatment.

“I appreciate the help that was given and I’m so glad for their intervention,” Garfield said.

Garfield was among those on hand to present Southwick and Swatzler with Workplace Hero certificates on Aug. 7.

“You have to be ready for anything. You have to help people when they need it,” Southwick said. “I like that this job enables us to do that.”

Southwick is a sophomore industrial engineering student at Slippery Rock University. Swatzler will be entering his freshman year as a bio-chemistry student at Penn State Behrend.

Workplace Hero is an award open to PennDOT employees who, during work hours, take actions that prevent the death or serious injury of a co-worker or member of the public.