Foundry Workers Lauded For Saving a Friend’s Life

Dave Zdonczyk’s life changed forever on Jan. 5 – and it might have ended without the efforts of four of his co-workers at Wheeling’s Centre Foundry and Machine Co.

Zdonczyk, a Wheeling resident, suffered a heart attack at the end of his shift that day. But Don Waddell, Todd McCardle, Carl Miller and Gary Johnson came to his rescue.

Those four men were recognized Thursday during an emotional ceremony held in a small office building located across River Road from the foundry. More than a dozen employees gathered to honor their co-workers for administering CPR to Zdonczyk after he collapsed in a shower area at the plant.

The four men were presented plaques by Centre Foundry & Machine Safety Director Frank Vansickle and Steelworkers Local 4842 President Kenny Violet.

According to Vansickle and plant Supervisor Mickey Eicholtz, after Zdonczyk experienced a heart attack and fell in the shower area at the plant, Waddell rushed in from an adjoining room to see what had happened after hearing Zdonczyk fall. Upon realizing Zdonczyk was unconscious and not breathing, Waddell started to perform CPR and asked the security guard to call 911. McCardle, Miller and Johnson also rushed in to aid in the CPR efforts on Zdonczyk.

Zdonczyk was eventually transported to a local hospital, where he underwent surgery. He is still recovering from the life-altering incident today.

Vansickle said the men were able to help save Zdonczyk’s life by using the CPR training they received from Dynamic Safety Resource, which is offered to all employees at the plant.

“When you working with somebody that long, it’s just like family,” he added, noting Zdonczyk and Waddell have been friends for 25 years.

Zdonczyk, who eventually plans to return to work, said he doesn’t remember anything about the incident, but he knows the outcome could have been much worse if it had happened just 10 minutes earlier or ten minutes later. He said he still could have been working near the furnace deck inside the plant or driving down River Road on his way home.

Zdonczyk said he has no words to describe his appreciation for his co-workers rushing to his aid that day.

“It’s unbelievable. … God was with me,” he added.