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Two lucky breaks equals one life saved

Trico employee helps rescue a man who’d been in the mountains for days

By Michael W. Kahn

The transformer was hard to find. What a lucky break.

Not the reaction you’d expect, but Danny Anaya was glad it happened. So was the man he rescued who spent five days alone without food and water in the Arizona mountains.

Anaya is a power line patrolman at Trico Electric Cooperative in Marana. His rounds took him to the Tortolita Mountains, which he described as “remote, rugged desert area” with lots of rocks.

To find the transformer, Anaya had to take a road so rough and narrow that he eventually decided it would be easier to walk. He put his gear on the hood of the truck before realizing he forgot his iPad.

That was the second lucky break of the day.

“I went to turn around and there was a guy laying off to the side of the road. He wasn’t responsive,” Anaya recalled.

“That was a hot day for the time of year it was. It was near 85 degrees,” Anaya said of that April 20 day. “This guy had his face in a tiny little shady spot. That’s the only shade that he had.”

“He needed help.”

Anaya was able to get him alert and called 911, but cell service in the area is poor and it was hard to hear, so he told the man he was leaving to get help. A few miles down the road the signal improved, and Anaya was able to lead rescuers to the man.

“The firemen said it was the man’s lucky day—if he hadn’t have been found today, he wouldn’t have made it,” said Anaya. Rescuers later told him the man would recover.

How he got there and why isn’t clear, but Anaya said there was reason to believe the man, in his late 20s, was homeless and might have been hoping to find shelter in a vacant house nearby.

Northwest Fire District Battalion Chief Steve Noble was grateful for Anaya’s help. “He did a great job,” said Noble.

And they’re proud at the co-op.

“Danny is a stand-up guy and we are fortunate to have him working for Trico,” said Vin Nitido, Trico’s CEO/general manager.

But Anaya doesn’t want a fuss. He’s seen a lot in his 26 years with Trico, much of which was as a lineman.

“I would do anything to help our co-op or anybody else,” he said. “That’s just the way I am.”

Michael W. Kahn is a staff writer at NRECA.