In April 2006, Woodhaven Stamping Team Member Charlie Kennedy was having a good day. He was on schedule and just finished loading a rack of floor pans on 404 Line.
“It was a perfect day, actually,” Kennedy said. “Perfect up until a hi-lo ran me over.”
The hi-lo, which was transporting four racks of pans, struck Kennedy as he went to change loads out at his station. The multiple-thousand pound vehicle had crushed Kennedy’s right leg, prompting several emergency surgeries.
“He was in a hurry to put the racks in and wasn’t paying a lot of attention,” he said. “The driver had stopped right after he hit me, but the hi-lo was still on me. It was so heavy that the wheels were flat on the ground with my leg under it.”
One of the scariest moments, Kennedy confessed, was when the doctors were drawing lines on his right leg as they discussed exactly where to cut it off. The bones were crushed and the tissue was mangled. Kennedy thought he’d never walk again.
Luckily, after eight surgeries the doctors were able to save his leg, but it will never be the same.
“I couldn’t get out of bed for several months and couldn’t drive for more than two years,” he said. “It changed my life 100 percent. I have my good days and bad, but it always hurts. Sometimes it’s a 4 out of 10, others a 10 out of 10.”
While the accident was a terrifying moment in Kennedy’s life, he said the most difficult thing was how the accident affected his children.
“It really messed them up,” he admitted. “That was the hardest part. My son likes to fish and hunt but I can’t do any of it to the same level anymore like I used to. It’s been really hard.”
More than seven years later, Kennedy is still coping with the accident and now gets around with the use of a cane and his mostly tied to working at a desk. He works in the Safety Office where, along with his day-to-day duties, can give a word of warning to his colleagues.
“They say ‘Be your brother and sister’s keeper,’ but I want to say ‘Be your own keeper, too,’” Kennedy expressed. “The responsibility is equal between you and the other person, between the pedestrian and the driver. Watch out. Be careful. Be your own keeper.”
With the prevention of injuries always on his mind, Safety Engineer Art Aproff echoes Kennedy’s message.
“Everyone’s goal should be to go home the way you came in and be safe,” Aproff said. “Charlie’s story, while extremely unfortunate, serves as a reminder to watch out for each other and yourself while at work. We need to work together to prevent serious injuries.”