“It was more instinctive than anything,” said Luke Maslak, an appraiser for the Park County Assessor’s office.
Maslak and coworker Dave Wildman were parked at the rest area just east of Panther Boulevard when the small truck crossed the tracks west of the boulevard, drove through the railroad right-of-way and then plunged into the canal. The two didn’t hesitate to get their feet wet.
“We didn’t think about it for a second,” Wildman said. “We just jumped.”
They jumped into the back of the partially-submerged truck and pulled Gresly, who was unconscious, through the back sliding-glass window. By that time, other folks had stopped to help and the two appraisers were able to pass Gresly to people on the banks of the fast-moving canal.
Once in the back of the truck, there was concern the truck might roll in the fast-moving water.
“I was watching the water level. It was a small truck and it could’ve rolled real easy,” Wildman said.
Wildman and Maslak, both of Cody, spend a lot of their time on the road and have helped in several accidents through the years, Wildman said. But they don’t think of themselves as heroic.
“We’re just average Joes,” Wildman said.
Their boss, Park County Assessor Pat Meyer, deadpanned that it was “just another day for the assessor’s office!”
On shore, Alejandra Burichka — who had stopped when she saw the accident — helped Gresly until rescue squads arrived. Gresly was treated at the scene and then transported to the Powell Valley Healthcare. The truck was quickly removed from the canal.
Leigh Dvarishkis, Gresly’s wife, turned to Facebook to thank those who jumped into action. Dvarishkis said Gresly was doing much better on Thursday.
“I want to extend a heart felt thank you to all the people who stopped and got my husband out of his pickup when he drove it into the canal ... He had lost consciousness while driving and most definitely was in jeopardy of much more serious injury or drowning,” she said. “I can’t even imagine what could of happened if the community of Powell wasn’t so selfless and hadn’t come to his rescue!”
Bryant Startin, manager of the Shoshone Irrigation District, said vehicles end up in the canal fairly often.
“With all the vehicles that have gone in the canal, nobody has died,” Startin said.
The water runs lower this time of year and the water came halfway up to the top of the doors on the truck.
No citations were issued in the accident, said Powell Police Sgt. Matt McCaslin. A medical issue was the official cause of the accident and no drugs or alcohol were involved, McCaslin said.