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APCO Line Crew Supervisor Herb Coles receives AEP Chairman’s Life Saving Award

by on December 13, 2018
AEP Executive Vice President Paul Chodak (right) presents the AEP Chairman’s Life Saving Award to APCO Line Crew Supervisor Herb Coles Nov. 21 in Roanoke. In April, Coles rushed to the aid of his neighbor who was being attacked by a dog. His actions likely saved her life.

(Story by Teresa Hall)

In a room full of coworkers, Herb Coles, a line crew supervisor for Appalachian Power Company, accepted the AEP Chairman’s Life Saving Award for his actions in April that likely saved his neighbor’s life. Paul Chodak, AEP executive vice president — Utilities, presented the award after commending Coles for his willingness to help someone in need.

“Anyone who works with dogs will tell you I did everything wrong that day,” Coles told his colleagues as he accepted the plaque. “But I didn’t have too much time to think about it. My neighbors were in trouble and I reacted, and I give all the glory to God for the way it turned out.”

A night Coles won’t forget

Coles hadn’t been home from work long; it was around 9 p.m. when he said he was startled by what sounded like kids playing followed by a faint voice possibly yelling, “Call police.”

A concerned Coles stepped outside and detected commotion next door. “It was dark and hard to tell what was going on,” he said. Coles heard his neighbor’s daughter scream, “Please help, the dog is killing my Momma.”

Coles put on his boots, grabbed a broken sledgehammer that was missing the metal head, and ran next door. Armed with only the wooden handle, he entered his neighbor’s backyard and saw what appeared to be a large pit bull with its mouth clamped down on his neighbor’s forearm. At least two other dogs were also in the yard.

Coles said his badly injured neighbor was on the ground and struggling to break free. “I hit the dog on its back as hard as I could several times, but it didn’t budge; it wouldn’t let go,” he said. The other two dogs turned on Coles. “One of the dogs was biting my shoulder, and the other was biting my ankles.”

With the pit bull latched on to his neighbor, Coles grabbed the loose skin on the back of its neck. “What happened next had to be God,” Coles said. As the dog released its grip on his neighbor, the animal turned its head toward him. “It was dark and I couldn’t see, but I shoved the stick in its mouth.”

As Coles and the dog continued to wrestle, the two fell to the ground with Coles on top. But keeping the dog at bay long enough for the women to get inside wasn’t easy. The dog managed to turn its head and bite Coles’ hand. In a panic, Coles hit the dog a second time in the mouth and saw what he said appeared to be a tooth exit its mouth. Perhaps sensing what was happening, the other two dogs scampered away and the women were able to make it inside their home.

With the women now safe, Coles jumped the fence to the security of his own yard. Police and rescue personnel soon arrived.

Coles received injuries to his hands, forearms, shoulders and buttocks, and required 11 shots. His neighbor’s injuries were far more severe and required hospitalization. She sustained at least one broken arm, blood loss, and multiple lacerations and wounds to her face.

“It had to be God that made it work just right,” Coles said. “I was home when I wasn’t supposed to be.”

Following the attack, Coles said his neighbor quietly referred to him as her hero. “I told her, no,” he said. “The glory belongs to God.”

From → News From AEP

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