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AEP Texas crew receives President’s Award for courageous acts

by on July 17, 2015
Victoria line crew members accept the President’s Award. Pictured are (L to R): Line Mechanic Albert Rodriguez; Line Mechanic Julian Sosa; Russell Coleman, Victoria SDS; Line Crew Leader Todd Sneed; Wade Smith, AEP Texas president and chief operating officer; Line Mechanic Jeremy Voigt; and Elgin Janssen, Victoria community affairs manager.

(Story by Omar Lopez)

To hear Victoria, Texas, resident Sherry Holm tell the story, she thought she was dead.

Holm, 64, was driving in the right lane of Loop 463 in Victoria.  An industrial dump truck driving beside her in the left lane turned right. Holm veered off the road to avoid colliding with the truck, but she hit the truck head on.

“I hit the fuel tank. My air bag did not deploy. I took the full brunt of the impact in the face. I thought, ‘I’m not going to make this.’ I thought I was going to die,” Holm said.

Meanwhile, down the road, Line Mechanic Julian Sosa hovered more than 30 feet in the air in his bucket when he heard the crash. He turned and waved to the rest of his crew to investigate.

“When I realized that I was not dead, because I thought I would be, the next thing I knew there were men around me, helping me, calming me, getting me out of the car” Holm  said.

Those men were AEP Texas employees. Because of their heroic acts the day of the accident last December, Victoria Line Mechanic Albert Rodriguez; Line Crew Leader Todd Sneed; Line Mechanic Jeremy Voigt; and Sosa were awarded the President’s Award by Wade Smith, AEP Texas president and chief operating officer.

“I was up in the bucket when I heard some screeching tires,” Sosa said. “I waved as soon as I heard the noise. The guys started looking around for the noise, too. Albert and Todd took off.  They sprinted down the road while I came down.”

When Sosa came upon the accident, Rodriguez and Sneed were trying to help Holm out of the vehicle. Locked doors and fuel pouring from the truck created a dangerous, if not deadly, scene.

“I remember that the men were pulling the doors,” Holm said. “One was pulling on the driver’s side door that would not open and the other was standing on the passenger door. I remember telling them that I just wanted to sit there for a second.”

Sneed said he could see and smell the leaking diesel fuel. He and the rest of the crew insisted that she exit the vehicle.

“I just remember that there was a man walking with me and one walking in front of me, guiding me to a place,” she said. “They were so sweet and so nice. I remember how calm they were, and how it calmed me. I was terrified and they were so calming to me.”

The crew brought her a freezable gel pack and grabbed a folding chair for her. More people arrived on the scene.

“It was weird how everything just worked out,” Sosa said. “There were probably around 10 people around, people who stopped on the highway, including a nurse. She took over with the victim and we took off back to the service center.”

During the rescue, Holm asked the crew if they knew Elgin Janssen, the Victoria community affairs manager. She and Janssen often crossed paths through her work at the Victoria Economic Development Center. One week after the accident, Holm and Janssen saw one another at a meeting. Janssen said he noticed her deeply colored, fresh bruises about her eyes and forehead. It was then that Janssen learned that the AEP Texas linemen were responsible for her rescue.

Sneed and the crew returned to the service center that day without much thought about the accident. He said they did not talk about it until the next Monday.

“We weren’t trying to get our names in the paper or anything,” Sneed said. “You don’t really know how you are going to react. It was just a normal day.”

But not for Holm.

She said the accident, for her, was life-changing. She has since retired and she said she owes her life to the crew.

“Let me tell you, your men at AEP Texas pulled me out of there. They saved my life.”

From → News From AEP

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