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Area PennDOT Interns Honored For Heroism

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Jim Foringer (from left), Jacob Southwick, James Garfield, Nick Swatzler and Chad Tarr come together to honor the two interns who sprang into action and helped Garfield to safety.
Jim Foringer (from left), Jacob Southwick, James Garfield, Nick Swatzler and Chad Tarr come together to honor the two interns who sprang into action and helped Garfield to safety.

Two Pennsylvania Department of Transportation interns who assisted a man trapped under a tractor earlier this summer were recently honored for their heroism.

Interns Jacob Southwick of Titusville and Nicholas “Nick” Swatzler of Galloway in Venango County were awarded the Workplace Hero honor for their actions in July. Southwick and Swatzler have been working with Chad Tarr, project manager at the Big I roundabout project.

Recipients who earn the Workplace Hero award are PennDOT employees who, during work hours, take action to prevent severe injury or the death of a coworker or member of the public.

On July 16, the two interns were en route to inspect the location of a construction-related detour sign when they discovered an emergency situation on Middle Road in Vernon Township, according to PennDOT spokeswoman Jill Harry. A man who had been doing yard work crashed his tractor into a ditch near the roadway. The man, James Garfield, became pinned beneath the equipment.

Southwick and Swatzler, assisted by another person on the scene, lifted the tractor and removed Garfield, who was later transported by ambulance for medical treatment.

“I appreciate the help that was given and I am so glad for their intervention,” Garfield said in a release.

Garfield was among those on hand to present Southwick and Swatzler with their Workplace Hero certificates on August 07 at the Big I roundabout field office. Jim Foringer, PennDOT northwest region District 1 executive, was also present as the interns received the recognition.

“You have to be ready for anything. You have to help people when they need it,” Southwick said in a release of the experience. “I like that this job enables us to do that.”

Southwick is a sophomore studying industrial engineering at Slippery Rock University, and Swatzler will enter his freshman year as a biochemistry student at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College.