Chastin McLain spends his workday on the lookout for dead and diseased trees and hanging limbs as head of a vegetation management crew helping to prevent power outages for Arkansas’ electric cooperatives. But one afternoon in May, the day’s work was cut short by heavy thunderstorms.
As he and his team headed back to their staging area near Berryville, McLain spotted a small child splashing around in a drainage ditch, just two feet away from the road and less than 50 yards from a fast-rising creek.
“The little guy couldn’t have been more than 2 years old,” said McLain, who pulled into the closest driveway and jumped down from the cab, as other members of the Arkansas Electric Cooperative Inc. right-of-way crew stopped traffic in both directions as a precaution.
McLain scooped the boy up and looked around to see where he might have come from.
“There were two houses nearby, so I carried the child over and knocked on the door of the nearest house,” McLain said. “His aunt was shocked that the child had slipped outside while she was preoccupied.”
The woman was relieved the toddler was unharmed and more than thankful to McLain and the AECI crew.
McLain, the father of three youngsters under 10, was glad his “dad’s eyes” were on alert that day.
“Several people drove by before we stopped and helped,” said McLain. “It is just second nature for our team to try and help others, especially an innocent child.”
McLain and his crew were recently recognized by AECI management for their willingness to step in to prevent what could have been real tragedy for an Arkansas family.
“We stress safety with our crews as often as possible, but Chastin and the rest of the men took it to another level by looking out for others,” said Joe Ritchie, manager of the AECI right-of-way department. “I hope that all of our employees would do the same thing if the need arose, but Chastin definitely showed great character and service to others by his actions.”