Local News

Thursday, Aug 08 2013 09:00 PM

Implosion victim undergoes surgery to save his leg

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    By via Facebook

    Facebook profile photo of Jerry Wood

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    By Louis Amestoy/ The Californian

    A Kern County firefighter picks up articles of clothing and other items where at least one person was critically injured by shrapnel from the implosion of PG&E's power plant along Rosedale Highway on Aug. 3, 2013. The victim was standing just north of Jet Way and east of Coffee Road.

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    By Autumn Parry / The Californian

    The two remaining towers of the old Pacific Gas & Electric steam power plant are on their sides Aug. 4 after the implosion knocked them to the ground at Coffee Road and Rosedale Highway early Aug. 3.

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    By Autumn Parry / The Californian

    A hole in the fence near Lowe's marks where one man was seriously injured after a piece of shrapnel flew from the implosion of the old Kern Power Plant through two fences and hit him in the leg at Coffee Road and Rosedale Highway.

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    By Autumn Parry / The Californian

    An explosion knocks down one of the remaining towers at the old Kern Power Plant at Coffee Road and Rosedale Highway in August. The demolition of the plant, which has been closed since 1995 after operating for about 37 years, was part of Pacific Gas and Electric Co.'s plan to sell the site for redevelopment.

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BY JOHN COX Californian staff writer jcox@bakersfield.com

The Bakersfield man critically injured by Saturday's power plant implosion accident underwent surgery at a San Francisco hospital Thursday to save his left leg.

Chances were slim that the surgery would be successful, the family's attorney said. But Bakersfield lawyer Dennis Thelen said the odds were better that Jerry Wood's right leg could be saved.

"Probabilities are, they're not going to save that (left) leg," Thelen said.

Even if doctors are able to avoid amputating one or both legs, Thelen said the question of whether Wood,43, will be able to use them "is really, really speculative at this point."

Thursday's surgery was performed at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco. Wood was transferred there from Fresno's Community Regional Medical Center, which Thelen said was not equipped for such procedures.

CPMC declined comment Thursday on Wood's condition following the surgery.

Thelen said that Wood, general manager and director of sales and marketing for a Bakersfield-based software development company, already had two or three surgeries on his legs while at a Fresno hospital.

Thelen said the Woods family especially wanted to thank the Bakersfield community for its well wishes.

"The family very much appreciates the deep outpouring of support and prayer," he said.

"He (Jerry) has got a long, long road in front of him and the road is very, very uncertain."

Wood was struck by debris from the 6 a.m. implosion of the old Pacific Gas and Electric Co. power plant along Coffee Road. He and hundreds of other spectators had gathered to watch the demolition. Several other people received minor injuries.

Cal-OSHA and the California Public Utilities Commission are investigating the accident. So, too, is the Contractors State License Board, which began its inquiry upon learning that one of the subcontractors on the job, Lincoln-based Alpha Explosives, was working with a recently expired license, and then tried to secure one retroactively.

A spokesman for the licensing board said its staff has been unable to determine whether DuBois, Wyo.-based Demtech Inc., a contractor brought on by Alpha, had a license. Demtech and Alpha have not responded to requests for comment.

The CPUC, PG&E's primary regulator, issued a statement Thursday that it did not review the utility's demolition plan. It remained unclear what government agency, if any, reviewed or approved the work.

"There is no requirement for PG&E to submit demolition plans to the CPUC for approval," spokesman Christopher Chow wrote in an email.

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