WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- As a wall collapse at a construction zone in the heart of downtown Winston-Salem sent many running away, other groups ran toward the chaos, including two Winston-Salem police officers who were less than a block away as bricks and concrete slabs trapped a worker underneath the rubble.
“People running away from the brick dust and then we saw people running back,” Officer Jordan Long said.
Long and Officer Mark Mooney ran toward the scene as dust began to cloud West Fourth Street.
“We had asked each other, ‘Oh my God, do you think somebody’s under there,’ and then we got here and found out that somebody was,” Long said.
“When you actually see people pointing and confirming that there’s someone in there, your adrenaline goes way up,” Mooney added.
As they scaled downward to the man, all that was visible was the top of his hard hat.
“It was really chaotic at first, because everybody wants to move so fast, they want to save the person,” Long said.
The officers helped clear the man’s body of bricks and concrete slabs, freeing him.
“Once we got the concrete blocks off of his back, it was like, he wanted to move, he wanted to jump out of the hole and we have to make him stay,” Long detailed.
Meanwhile, the officers were being told that the wall on the other side of the structure was also unstable, so they began clearing civilians out of the danger area while firefighters and EMS personnel entered.
“Very surprised that the gentleman that was down in the structure was conscious and talking to us,” Mooney said. “He wanted out so bad.”
The man was freed, loaded on a stretcher and taken to the hospital for what were initially classified as serious but non-life-threatening injuries.
“He told me that he just started praying and that he was happy that everybody came to dig him out,” Long detailed, of her visit with him at the hospital. “He was happy that he wore his hard hat.”