SKOWHEGAN — A retired high school history teacher and a black Labrador retriever may have helped save the life of a New Hampshire man Wednesday afternoon after the man’s truck rolled onto his chest.
David Harville, 63, of Chandler Street, said he was walking a friend’s 19-month old dog, Rondo, when the dog spotted the injured man, Kirby Turcotte, pinned beneath the left front wheel of a truck.
The truck had slipped from a wooden ramp as Turcotte was checking for mechanical problems underneath.
“We got to the end of Chandler Street and Rondo noticed there was someone lying on the ground,” Harville said. “He doesn’t usually react like that — I think he knew something was wrong. I streaked across the lawn and I noticed this man was on his back, unconscious and bleeding from his mouth.”
Harville said he jumped into the cab of the truck and pulled it forward, off Turcotte’s chest, as others ran over to help and call 911.
Rondo stayed with Turcotte until he was put into an ambulance and taken to the hospital, Harville said.
“I realized he could die very quickly,” Harville said. “I looked down at his face and he was starting to gain consciousness. I wanted him to remain conscious so he wouldn’t go into shock. I thought if Rondo could be right near him it would keep Kirby conscious, keep him active.”
Harville said he watches Rondo almost every day for his friends Tammy Young and Tim Timberlake, who live on Wesserunsett Lake in East Madison, where Harville has a cottage.
Young said it doesn’t surprise her that Rondo would have reacted as he did.
“He’s a very smart dog,” she said.
Turcotte, 69, who grew up in Skowhegan and lives in Derry, N.H., is scheduled for surgery Friday on his broken ribs, his sister said Thursday.
He was undergoing tests Thursday at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, his sister Abbie Provencher said.
The accident happened about 3 p.m. Wednesday in her driveway on North Avenue near the corner of Chandler Street.
Skowhegan police Chief Ted Blais said Turcotte was working under the truck when it rolled backward off a improvised wooden ramp and the truck’s left wheel rolled onto Turcotte’s chest. He said the truck, a 2005 Chevy 3500 one-ton with a Duramax diesel engine, is about as heavy as a domestic truck can be.
Provencher said Turcotte was conscious and able to talk after the accident.
Turcotte has been staying with his sister for the last month. Provencher said her brother works in the construction business.