April 9, 2020

Tragedy Strikes (Act Two)

Corey Shirey

A Quick Thanks

If you have read the first post in my blog you have and have found your way here I want to say first of all, thank you. Thank you for staying with me, for being interested. I hope in some way you have benefited from the story, if only for entertainment or a brief distraction. Earlier, I explained that two tragedies befell me while being a construction superintendent. The second, like the first, was also a mortality. Crazy, right two deaths within two weeks of each other. I remember it was a weekday, I cant be for sure what day specifically it was. But, I believe it was the beginning of the week, a Monday or Tuesday. My mind was still reeling from the first incident, did I make the right choice? Could I have done more? WOULD HE STILL BE ALIVE HAD I DONE…….. pretty  deep stuff I know. But, I suppose when things happen that the mind doesn't understand we try and find some way to reason it or understand why it happened. I don't know, maybe that's just me being the cynical skeptic. Constantly seeing the glass empty... instead of the half empty/half full. Never acknowledging that there is any water in the glass at all.

The Phone Call

But back on topic, I was on the first floor walking with my Hispanic counterpart Eric (those of you that read the first blog know who he is). I remember one of the general contractors coming up to us passing conversation. I think we were talking about how much damage there was and how much time and money it was going to cost to repair it all. It was putting my crew and company way behind schedule. Nothing we could do; nor was it our fault but nonetheless we had to come up with a way to solve the problem as quickly and cost effectively as possible. My phone rang, I looked down, saw the number, and rolled my eyes. It was one of my laborers (those are the guys who come around clean up after people and or stock material among other things). They always called about the dumbest things I remember thinking. Part of running work is babysitting, telling guys where to put screws and screw patterns, down the the very minutia of carpentry. It sounds bad but it becomes so exhausting. Figure  something out for yourselves! Anyways, I'm sidetracking again. I answered and I remember this wave of panic took over me. Before he even said a word it was like I could feel the air change around me. I knew something was wrong.  I remember him saying u need to come quick man, there's this guy who passed out on the second floor he's not responding you just need to get here. Before I could hang up the phone I took off full sprint.


The rep. for the general contractor asked me what the hell is going on. It happened again, that's all I needed to say, and he was off behind me running just as fast. I remember the run to the incident being long, so long it felt like an eternity. Mind you this job was massive as those of you know but still. Each step felt like I had lead weights on my feet and my heart was out of my chest beating. As I approached, I had an eerie flashback of the first accident. People were standing outside the plastic curtain almost critiquing the situation. The guy who was on the ground was foaming at the mouth and his eyes kept rolling back in his head. Not like when u fall asleep but they moved out of sync with his body and had unnatural motions about them. Now this man was a fire-proofer. Basically, they spray fire retardant material around the steel exposed parts of the building. That way if it ever did catch fire the fireproofing would at least slow the blaze so the responding fire fighters could put it out, This stuff is nasty, full of fiberglass. It makes me break out in a rash when i touch it, even the slightest of touch. No one worked in the areas they were in and this one had a plastic curtain draped all around the outside, a massive barrier to keep people out and enclosed. It was so hot that day and when u walked in i could remember being choked by the heat and strands of fiberglass in the air that made it gloomy and foggy. I remember freezing like the cliche says, a deer in headlights. For a split second my body and mind was completely paralyzed by what I was seeing, my mind trying to understand how it was possible to have another incident within a matter of weeks of each other. But then another feeling came on more powerful than the former, almost cataclysmicly pulling me in , telling me “Do something you moron, for Gods sake, do something.”

Back From The Grave

I wasn't alone , two of my laborers were at the site one was holding his hand the other was giving him mouth to mouth. I asked if anyone had called 911, they said no. So again I made the call. The operator answered I explained who I was and where I was and the situation. She fucking recognized me! Can you imagine, her first words were “oh honey again?” i was panicked, the only thing I could think of was not letting this guy die, not again, this time would be different. She told me to calm down and tell her what happened. “she was going to be right there with me until the paramedics arrived,” she said. I had no clue, so like the first i asked his partner who was cradling his head, and he responded with he fell off  his scaffold. That all he knew, i mean you can't watch someone 24/7 ya know he had to work as well. I told her and explained that the scaffold he was working from was rather large and i was a good 15 foot fall to the thick concrete floor. She told me, don't move his neck and keep his head steady, which his partner instinctively was doing to perfection. She asked if he was responding and I said no and explained the foam coming out of his mouth. At this point circumstances changed, he was beginning to fall in and out of consciousness, mouth spewing foam. The lady could sense the change in my voice and said what was happening? I explained and she said gently to have some start CPR that his heart had probably stopped from the sound of it. 5 times, 5 agonizing paralyzing times this man “died” before our eyes. Each time i would scream out CPR and my laborer would start the mouth to mouth and BRING HIM BACK! Where the hell were these paramedics? Are they coming from Albania, did they have to fly to get here? What was taking so long? In reality it had been 5 minutes and, with relief, I heard her say they have arrived. I remember a wave of emotions hitting me when the paramedics pulled back the curtain.


The other supervisor who works for the plumbing company on site, beforehand had cleared two floors worth of material and people so they had a clear pathway to make it off the job . Sounds like the makings of a story of a happy ending , a story of redemption, a story of faith in believing in the impossible. I remember shaking uncontrollably like a leaf as I stepped out of the closed off area my mind equal to a plate of scrambled eggs. The question Why…..why….why constantly circling in my brain. But I  remember having hope like i said people had banded together we got to the guy he's still alive he's gonna make it this time. As they wheeled him past me (now made my way back down to the main entrance on the first floor) i felt a wave of relief as they closed the ambulance doors. Finally, he's made it. As life so often does i was hit with a 90 mph fastball i never saw coming. The man died a couple hours later, cause of death….. Heart attack at least what I heard. If i have learned anything in this life is that nothing is for certain and i promise nothing hits as hard as or unexpectedly as life. Life will beat you to the floor and keep you there if you let it. The nights of losing sleep, night terrors, having my first of many panic attacks were plentiful in the months to follow. I remember that whole night my body shook, shaking uncontrollably like i was sitting on the top of a washing or drying machine. I remember crying when I called my mom and dad that night and broke the news I felt to the floor cradled in the fetal position. I cried and cried and I remember nothing was more reassuring than my parents. Nothing felt better than to hear their voice and just listen to them talk. It's an indescribable comfort, that i will never be able to repay them for. I love my parents, very much, they have always supported me and loved me despite how shit i was as i kid. They have been my role models growing up and continue to be this day. That's why every time something happens in my life, I PUSH THEM AWAY. Why? You and I both want to know. I think it's because I feel ashamed or embarrassed, when I'm wrong or when I'm emotionally compromised. I don't want to let them down or make mistakes when I see how perfect they are. It's hard to measure up sometimes. My mom and dad are very successful people. My dad makes enough and has made enough money so that my mom didn't have to work for awhile (i'm not going into specifics but let's just say we haven't ever really wanted for anything).  Not by her choice, raising three children that span over a decade in age difference ( me and my brother are 8 years apart, then my sister is the youngest being 15 now as I am 28) was more than a full time job.Especially with my dumb ass for a son, ha ! Now she works three jobs ( a photography business she started from the ground up, a doctor's office, and she is a cheer coach at my Alma mater LITTLE MIAMI). So, all that being said who the hell am I to complain to them about my life? Nonetheless they listen quietly,  encourage and love me when I have needed it most. For that I am eternally grateful to have them as parents.


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About the Author:

Web Designer, Digital Marketer, and Blogger. Certified in both Google Analytics and Google Ads (As well as many other qualifications, which you can view on my LinkedIn Profile). A listed "Top Expert" on the Kartra platform.

Premium Design Partners was started with the goal of helping small businesses achieve an online presence through SEO, an incredible web design, and content catered to promoting their brand.

Former construction professional (Superintendent for 10+ years), who understands and values an "honest day's work". Enjoys softball (And baseball, but softball now that I am old), constant gym sessions, and anything that pushes me mentally and physically. After all, life is a strive for improvement and knowledge. Meaning, in order to "climb the next rung in the ladder", you must be focused on improving yourself. If you aren't striving to reach "the next best you" in life, then what's the point?

Corey Shirey
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CEO & Founder