CINCINNATI — More than one year after Travis Miller survived the collapse of the Killen power plant, he and his wife Alissa walked into a room full of rescue workers to say one thing: Thank you.
Authorities responded to Killen Generating Station Wednesday, Dec. 9 after reports that part of a building had collapsed with people inside. Those trapped were part of a demolition crew working to take down the retired power station that once operated as part of Dayton Power and Light's power grid.
Two men working on the site died. Miller was trapped. He lost his legs, but survived with the help of faith and the men of the Hamilton County Urban Search and Rescue Team.
"You guys were the ones who got me out to get me to those doctors, and you all don't get the recognition you need," Miller said. "And I'm here to thank every one of you all today. I'm home with my family — different circumstances than when you saw me the last time, and I thank you very much."
Grant Light and Ed Thomas were two of the USAR team members who found Miller.
"It was a giant building, and it was flat on the ground," Light said. "So the thought that anybody would survive that collapse, just in itself, was a good thing to hear somebody say they're talking to somebody and he was alive."
Miller said he remembers all of the workers trying to help him out while he thought to himself, "This is it. It's over."
"Somebody was holding onto a cell phone, talking to his wife and saying their goodbyes," Light said. "So he knew his predicament wasn't good."
During that phone call, Alissa said she told her husband it was not over.
"I was like, no, you're not — not today, not happening, not happening," Alissa said. "I wasn't gonna tell him goodbye, give him permission. No."
Miller was told if he had faith in God, he could move mountains. The USAR Team moved a mountain of debris off of him.
"If it wasn't for these guys, I wouldn't be sitting here today," Miller said.
Light said the family has sent clips to the team showing his progress since the collapse.
"I saw video clips of his first steps ever, and lifting out of a wheelchair, and then next another video clip, and you can see his progression," Light said. "But then to actually be here to see him walk in it was it was great. It was great."
The men, trained for the worst situations, were visibly moved seeing Miller in front of them, noting how rare it is to meet a person rescued from such dire situations.
"I spent 40 years in the fire service and I've been doing USAR for over 25 ... a victim that has been through that type of trauma and that type of experience to, come back to thank us and visit us, I've never had that happen to me before," Thomas said.
Being able to thank them, laugh and cry with them, is what Miller has worked toward since he was in the hospital.
"I can't wrap my mind around it — these men go into these buildings that could fall on them, and they can leave their families for him and other people they don't even know," Alissa said. Those are heroes. And they deserve to be thanked appropriately."
Miller is suing Adamo Demolition Company of Detroit and SCM Engineer Demolition Inc. of East China, Michigan. The complaint alleges Miller’s injuries have led to more than $2.9 million in medical expenses so far, with an estimated $1.2 million in nursing care required in the future. The lawsuit says Miller’s injuries reduced his future earning capacity by more than $2.6 million.
Light joined Miller as he completed a race in his hometown last weekend.
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