Story by Alicia Steele, Staff writer
In a woodworking shop class last week, Kenneth Thomas, an 85-year-old student, accidentally cut his hand on a table saw while building a coffin. Rebecca Morris, senior cross-country runner from Fort Wright, Kentucky, ran to his aid.
Morris said when the accident happened it was second nature to her to help.
“The type of person I am is that I am always there for people, that’s how I am in cross-county and track,” Morris said.
Morris said before using the machines, the class is taught how to use the machines properly. She said there is a table saw called a stop saw that will shut off as soon as skin touches the blade. However, Morris said the table saw Thomas was using did not do that.
“To me it sounded like he had a kickback where the wood shoots back at you, which is very common,” Morris said.
Morris then saw Thomas leave his work station and walk over to the sink, leaving his machine still turned on.
“I walked over to where he was at the sink and I was like, ‘Are you OK?’ and he was like, ‘No, I’m not,’” Morris said. She said Thomas told her he needed to go to the hospital, so she got his car keys and drove him to the emergency room where she sat with him for hours.
Morris said she later delivered his car to his house so it would be waiting for him when he got home that night.
“Most of the time if something happens, we’re supposed to get the professor and keep them calm,” Morris said.
However, the instructor was sick the day of the accident and did not attend class.
Thomas said he had built his coffin outside of the class and later bent the wood, so he spoke with the instructor and she allowed him to take the class to fix it.
“I’ve never had a problem with a machine,” Thomas said. “So I knew what to do and how to be careful.”
Thomas said he was in a state of shock when Morris came to his aid.
“This does happen; I know this happens,” Thomas said.
He said there were many students in the class and none were as responsive or quick to be of service as Morris was.
“She made it almost pleasant for me,” Thomas said.
Thomas said within 15 minutes of the accident happening, Morris had him to the hospital and he was being “dealt with” by doctors.
“She was terrific,” Thomas said. “And I really did benefit from it.”