A two-time U.S. Olympian and California native was inCentral New York today. But, he wasn’t here to talk about his experience at the2000 Sydney Olympic Games.
Eyewitness News Reporter Jennifer Lee tells us hismiraculous story of survival and why it’s important to dial before you dig.
“Did I ever think I would ever go to the Olympic Games? No.It kind of came about going through such an adversity. I was very fortunate,”says Cliff Meidl.
Cliff Meidl was 20-years-old when he had 30,000 volts ofelectricity shooting through his body. It started as just another day back in1986 at his summer construction job jack hammering through concrete.
But, Cliff didn’t know that would be the day his world wasturned upside down.
“The lights were out like that. I woke up 16 hours later ina hospital bed not knowing what just had happened. My mom was there telling me Iwas involved in a very bad accident,” says Cliff.
Cliff suffered severe burns and disintegrated one-third ofboth his knee joints. He couldn’t walk for several years.
That’s when he turned to sports like kayaking and canoeingfor the therapeutic value. Then, he took those skills all the way to the OlympicGames.
And, he continues to take a negative situation and turn itinto a positive one.
“My story of being involved in a construction accidentas a kid while I was excavating ties in very well. What we’re trying to do is topromote safety awareness and avoid potential damages out in the field,” saysCliff.
Cliff has teamed up with Dig Safely New York for its 2012 ExcavatorSeminar at SUNYIT to stress the importance of calling before digging.
Experts say before you start digging you may want to call811 number three days in advance so you don’t interfere with any electrical orgas pipelines.
“Calling before you dig significantly reduces thedamages to underground facilities. In New York State 33 percent of damages wasa failure of people calling before you dig. So, just by simply calling 811reduces the chances of you digging into a facility,” says Kevin Hopper, anOperations Manager at Dig Safely New York.
Cliff is now a national spokesperson for the ConstructionSafety Council and is inspiring audiences across the country.