A New Jersey roofer, Rob Nuckols, saved a co-worker, Martin Davis, who had accidently fallen into the tank and appeared to be fully submerged on Monday.
Davis and Nuckols were repairing a rotted roof at Swepco Tube in Clifton, N.J. Swepco Tube is a company that manufactures metal tubes. According to the website they specialize in high alloy, corrosion resistant products for the process industries.
Nuckols, 51, was working on the ground floor of the of the building when he saw the roof give way and saw Davis plunge 40 feet into a tub of diluted acid, becoming fully submerged, reported the Associated Press. Nuckols quickly reacted, putting his life on the line. Initially reports indicated that he jumped into the tank after 44-year-old co-worker.
The tank was filled with 40 percent to 70 percent solution of nitric acid that is used to clean metal tubing.
His exact words were, 'I had to get him out,' Fire Chief Vince Colavitti said, reported CBS. He took his life and put it in harm's way to save a co-worker and that speaks a lot for a person.
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Three other co-workers also assisted in the rescue. They were identified as Rob Fulton, 24, Joe Dabkowski, 45, and William Walker, who is in his 20s, reported The Record.
However, a relative of Nuckols said that he did not actually jump in to the vat, reported The Record. Still, fire officials said that the four colleagues put their life on the line to rescue Davis.
It takes a lot of courage Colavitti said of the rescuers' actions. Davis appeared to extremely red and was in shock after he was rescued. He was incoherent,
The chief said that it appeared that acid steam had corroded the metal roof just above the tank, compromising it.
Fire officials quickly arrived on the scene after an emergency call was placed. They cut off Davis' clothes and sprayed him with water to stop the acid from burning through his skin. Nuckols was able to rinse himself off, reported The Record. An ambulance took Davis to Weasel Brook Park where he was airlifted to St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, N.J.
They have him on a breathing apparatus and he's in critical condition, Davis' brother, John, said. His condition is not so good. But he's a young guy. He'll pull through.
Nuckols suffered burns on his legs and abdomen. He was taken to St. Mary's Hopsital in Passaic, N.J. He was treated and released on Monday. One of the other roofers was taken St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center in Paterson, and the other two were taken to St. Mary's Hospital.
One of the roofers, who declined to give his name to The Record, did not believe Davis' injuries were life threatening.
It's diluted, the man said. He's going to be fine.
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, was investigating the accident on Monday. Colavittis said that the contracting company that the men were working for, Gar Con, did not have a building permit.
The Clifton City Manager, Matthew Watkins, said that the company could be fined up $2,000.
We have to let the investigation run its course, Watkins said. If the facts are that they didn't have a building permit, then it's safe to assume that something is going to happen to them.
John Davis, who also works in construction, said that he was not surprised that his brother's co-workers would put their lives on the line.
In our trade we stick together, he said. It's a serious business. You'll die out there. You've got your family to feed and you have got to protect each other.