Eyewitness News Reporter Jennifer Lee tells us his miraculous story of survival and why it's important to dial before you dig.
"Did I ever think I would ever go to the Olympic Games? No. It kind of came about going through such an adversity. I was very fortunate," says Cliff Meidl.
Cliff Meidl was 20-years-old when he had 30,000 volts of electricity shooting through his body. It started as just another day back in 1986 at his summer construction job jack hammering through concrete.
But, Cliff didn't know that would be the day his world was turned upside down.
"The lights were out like that. I woke up 16 hours later in a hospital bed not knowing what just had happened. My mom was there telling me I was involved in a very bad accident," says Cliff.
Cliff suffered severe burns and disintegrated one-third of both his knee joints. He couldn't walk for several years.
That's when he turned to sports like kayaking and canoeing for the therapeutic value. Then, he took those skills all the way to the Olympic Games.
And, he continues to take a negative situation and turn it into a positive one.
"My story of being involved in a construction accident as a kid while I was excavating ties in very well. What we're trying to do is to promote safety awareness and avoid potential damages out in the field," says Cliff.
Cliff has teamed up with Dig Safely New York for its 2012 Excavator Seminar at SUNYIT to stress the importance of calling before digging.
Experts say before you start digging you may want to call 811 number three days in advance so you don't interfere with any electrical or gas pipelines.
"Calling before you dig significantly reduces the damages to underground facilities. In New York State 33 percent of damages was a failure of people calling before you dig. So, just by simply calling 811 reduces the chances of you digging into a facility," says Kevin Hopper, an Operations Manager at Dig Safely New York.
Cliff is now a national spokesperson for the Construction
Safety Council and is inspiring audiences across the country.