Deputies rescue mud stuck public works employee


and Geghard ARAKELIAN

One of the workers whose job it is to monitor the debris basins and mud found himself a little too close to his work on Saturday and in need of a rescue.

Department of Public Works foreman Randy Johnson was inspecting the debris basin behind the public works building in the 4600 block of Briggs Avenue about 7 a.m. on Saturday. At some point he got stuck in a sinkhole and was unable to free himself. Luckily employees nearby were able to call 911, according to a Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s press release.

Deputies Juan Martinez and Chad Pluimer were the first on scene.

“We got there within 30 seconds from the call. He was right behind our station,” Martinez said. “He was waist deep. We were concerned about him going under.”

Martinez described the mud as having the consistency of quick sand. Rescuers were concerned that if Johnson slipped any further the pressure on his chest may begin to cause serious medical issues.

“We secured a rope around [Johnson’s] waist and then began to formulate a game plan on how to get him out,” he said.

Due to the terrain, rescuers could only get within about 15 feet of Johnson. Using debris scattered around from the flood, they built a makeshift bridge.

“We used some logs that had floated down and tree branches to stabilize [Johnson]. Then one of the public works employees gave us a 12-foot long board. We rolled it out closer to him. That was when we threw him another piece of [tree branch] to grab onto.”

Between the rope and branch Johnson was pulled out of the mud and to more solid ground.

“He was exhausted. We were exhausted. It took us about a half an hour from the call to him [being freed]. Our hands and feet were numb from the cold and cold mud,” Martinez said. “Everything just lined up together. Fire [personnel] was there and we all worked together.”

The other deputies that assisted in the rescue were: Deputies Joel Broumley, Alvaro Barreras, Danny Walls, Luca