“I remember seeing smoke and smelling gas and thought, 'this man needs to get out now'!”
That's what was going through the mind of SDG&E Orange County Lineman Phouthai (Thai) Keoveunxay as he made the quick decision to stop and help a man who was unconscious and stuck behind the wheel of his SUV after crashing on I-5 north.
While driving to a job site in Laguna Niguel, Thai saw smoke up ahead and as he got closer, realized an SUV had crashed and was severely damaged.
“I was afraid the driver was going to be trapped so I stopped my vehicle, turned my hazards on, and pulled my truck in front of the damaged SUV to assess the situation,” explains Thai while recalling the moments where he stopped to help a man in need.
Thai jumped into action, opened the door and tried waking the unconscious driver who was stuck behind the air bags. While Thai was trying to free the driver, he asked someone else at the scene to call 911.
“I kept trying to wake him and he was still unresponsive,” said Thai. “After getting his seatbelt free, the gentleman started to move his fingers and began to wake up.”
Once first responders arrived, Thai continued helping as they got the driver out of the car.
“Thai not only did the right thing that day, but he also showed amazing courage during a very stressful situation,” said Rick Condry, Manager, Construction & Operations, Orange County. “I’m proud of his willingness to help and that he was able to utilize the training we receive here at the company.”
Thai said the training he’s received over the past seven years working at SDG&E helped him stay calm during the emergency situation.
“Being a lineman, I have learned that things can happen very fast,” said Thai. “I knew through the experience of working in the trade, the best thing I could do was remain calm and assess the situation. I wanted to work quickly and efficiently to help the injured person get out safely.”
When asked what advice he would give to others who face a high-stress situation, Thai said: “Remain calm and take a deep breath, focus on the moment and assess the situation, determine what actions need to be taken and prioritize the safety of others and yourself. One calm step at a time.”
Thank you, Thai, for your courageous actions to help a member of our community and for exemplifying what it means to "do the right thing."