Off-duty firefighter rescues Alta Sierra man |

Off-duty firefighter rescues Alta Sierra man

After hearing a scream for help, an off-duty firefighter rescued an Alta Sierra man pinned under an overturned camper trailer, leading onlookers to call him a hero.

Nevada County Consolidated Fire Capt. Jim Turner downplayed his actions, which freed Howard Hendrich from being crushed to death Monday evening.

“I wouldn’t call it being a hero,” Turner said Wednesday. “It was really just a fluke thing.”

Turner was returning home just before 5:30 p.m. Monday from his son’s soccer game when he heard someone screaming for help in the 10000 block of Alta Sierra Drive, he said.

“I turned around and saw a large cabover camper on its side in a driveway,” he said. “A man was pinned between the camper and a cinder-block wall, and his wife was trying to keep it off him.”

Turner was concerned about lifting the approximately 1,500-pound trailer off Hendrich because of the possibility of “crush syndrome,” he said.

Crush syndrome is a severe, often fatal condition that can follow a severe crushing injury; after the removal of the crushing pressure, the release of muscle breakdown products into the bloodstream can cause kidney failure.

“You have to be careful, because taking the weight off can actually cause more damage,” he said.

Initially, Hendrich was talking and complaining that he couldn’t breathe, Turner said.

“I grabbed a couple of four-by-four boards to keep (the trailer) from crushing him anymore,” he said. “I wedged them between the camper and the wall. But then he went unresponsive, so I got my weight up on them to use as leverage. I got it about 4 inches up and with the help of his wife, I got him out.”

Once Hendrich was freed, he began breathing again, Turner said.

Hendrich was taken by helicopter to Sutter Roseville Medical Center, where he was listed in serious condition Wednesday, according to a spokeswoman.

To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, e-mail or call (530) 477-4229.

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