A Greene man who was severely injured last summer in a construction accident on Interstate 95 earned a new nickname Friday when he visited Hermon to thank the first responders who saved his life.
Eric Jabbusch, 51, is known as “the Miracle Man” by the men and women who responded last year at about 9:20 a.m. on July 21 to find a man pinned beneath about 10,000 pounds of steel sheet pilings.
He worked for H.B. Fleming of South Portland and was part of a crew working for Cianbro Corp. replacing a highway bridge in Hampden for the Maine Department of Transportation when the accident took place.
Jabbusch had an emotional reunion Friday with first responders from Hermon, Bangor and Hampden at the Hermon Fire Department. His 20-year-old son Dylan and identical twin brother Peter Jabbusch, both of Greene, also wept as they said, “Thank you for saving his life,” again and again.
Eric Jabbusch was conscious during the ambulance ride to Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center. He thought he might not survive.
“All I could think about was, how are they going to tell my boy I’m gone?” he said. “I was scared, but I knew you were doing everything you could for me.”
His pelvis was crushed and required multiple surgeries and “hardware” to repair it. Today, he walks gingerly with a cane and is blind.
Dylan, who lives with his father, also expressed gratitude to the emergency crews.
“My dad is my best friend,” he said. “I get to go home and hang out with my old man. I can’t thank you enough for that.”
The reunion was as emotional for Hermon Fire Chief Frank Roma as it was for the Jabbusch family.
“I never drive by the bridge over I-95 without thinking about the day a year and a week ago,” Roma said.
When he and his crew arrived at the scene they found a man trapped between a construction trailer and large pieces of steel attached to a crane, the chief said. It took teamwork and implementing techniques that they’d learned in training sessions but had not used before to rescue Eric Jabbusch. Members of the crews also were at risk because the scene was unstable, Roma said.
“In my estimation and the estimation of other responders it is truly a miracle that he survived such severe injuries,” Roma said. “He fought to stay alive and recover at every step. He serves as an example to the rest of us.”
After receiving treatment in Bangor, Eric Jabbusch was transferred to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston on Aug. 2, 2020, and to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital of Boston 17 days later. He returned home to Maine in September. He continues to receive physical and occupational therapy in Androscoggin County.
The Jabbusch family was busy last fall helping Eric recover and not thinking about the role first responders had played in his survival. But Roma heard about a benefit that members of a union at Bath Iron Works, where Eric Jabbusch once worked, were holding to raise money to cover the family’s expenses stemming from the accident. The fire chief asked someone who was attending to give the family a card from the Hermon crew.
“I was at this benefit and this young woman I’ve never seen before came to me and handed me this card from Frank [Roma],” Peter Jabbusch said. “It was then I realized that there really are no words to express how we feel about what he and his crew did for our family. Thank you doesn’t seem like enough.”
On Friday, Roma gave the family Hermon Fire t-shirts and bumper stickers, but he gave Eric Jabbusch a special gift, an honorary deputy fire chief’s badge.
“We played a minor role in his recovery,” Roma said. “The greatest credit goes to Eric.”