Students aid in rescue of ‘Nova employee

Lee Betancourt

A Villanova student was instrumental in rescuing a Villanova employee whose arm was caught in the machinery of a recycling truck last Tuesday.

Hugh Weldon, a member of the Grounds Department, was collecting recycled paper in a recycling truck at the Bartley loading dock area when his right arm became trapped in a part of the mechanism on the truck, Superintendent of Grounds Kevin O’Donnell said. Weldon started to scream for help and junior Mike Brandao arrived on the scene.

“I was walking to The Exchange from West, and I was walking by where the recycling trucks are and I heard screams, ‘Help, help, help,’ ” Brandao said. “At first I thought it was some kids in the Quad, but then I saw five girls running to the truck.”

Brandao ran to the back of the truck.

“I saw [Weldon’s] arm stuck where the trash compacts,” he said. “He was obviously in pain.”

With Weldon’s instructions, Brandao was able to work the controls on the truck to free Weldon’s arm and possibly save his life, O’Donnell said.

“It’s pretty admirable,” O’Donnell said. “He had to follow special instructions. If he didn’t, it could have led to further injury. He stayed calm enough to do this, which allowed the employee to get out.”

At first, Brandao was hesitant to use the controls that eventually freed Weldon and his arm. When he arrived on the scene, there was a professor there who was too scared to press the buttons for fear of making the situation worse, he said.

The professor left to call 911, leaving Brandao the only person there with Weldon.

“I didn’t want to [press the button],” Brandao said. “I was really scared that I would break his arm off. But I understand that if I were in his position, I would want it pushed. I was the only one there, so I just did it. Thank God it worked.”

Weldon had words of thanks for Brandao.

“I would like to thank everyone very much,” Weldon said. “[Brandao] helped me with the levels to relieve my arm. I was in so much pain, and I’m so grateful. He listened very carefully. Otherwise, it could have been a lot worse.”

After Weldon was freed, VEMS arrived on the scene. Students and members of a VEMS crew, Kaitlin Ryan, Sean Lukasiewicz and Katharine Nourse, were “just doing everything right … we should give them as much credit as we possibly can,” Charles Leeds, the horticultural supervisor in the grounds department, said.

Weldon was to be released from the hospital around Wednesday after several operations to repair damage.

“He’s recovering nicely,” O’Donnell said.