BY WENDI REARDON PRICE
Clarkston News Staff Writer
Larry Stephens smiled and handed a card to Tom Jidas last Wednesday, Sept. 1.
“This is from my family and myself,” said Stephens, an Independence Township resident. “We appreciate it.”
He also gave Jidas an EpiPen to replace the only one Jidas had used when Stephens had been stung 27 times by yellow jackets.
Jidas, who works for Dependable Septic, was at Stephens home to clean out the septic tank.
Stephens didn’t realize until he saw Jidas on the deck that his deck was built right over the septic tank.
“The access point is under the deck where you can reach down and pull the top off,” he said. “Tom was having a little bit of trouble getting it loose.”
Jidas began hitting the top with a big, heavy steel bar.
“I think that’s what stirred them up at first,” Jidas said. “We didn’t see anything at that point. As soon as I swung the lid over I either hit the nest or disturbed them more. They just started pouring out like someone turned the spigot on – yellow jackets everywhere. I set the lid down and the chain down and said I’ve got to get out of here. A good 50 of them followed me. He made the mistake of trying to save the lid from falling back into the tank. He grabbed the chain and moved it over and he started getting stung. I said go in the house, go in the house. Finally, he went in the house. I was like, ‘thank God.'”
Jidas went around the house to the front yard and kept a slow pace since he is allergic. He began putting his equipment away and would come back to finish the job another day.
Stephens met him in the front yard and when Jidas asked how he was feeling, he answered fine and said he was only stung 6-8 times.
“Then, as soon as I finished telling him I feel okay I felt really lightheaded,” Stephens said. “I was having trouble with my eyes and trouble focusing. I could feel my coordination was shot. He said you better sit down and he helped me sit down on the picnic table.”
“He walks over to the picnic table and scared me to death,” Jidas said. “He walked over to the picnic table to sit down, takes a step and goes right between the seat and the top. I am trying to pick him up and get him out. Then, he sits down on the ground and then he lays down. He starts going ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe.’
“Then, he starts having dry heaves. Then, in a snap, sweat. It looked like he just jumped out of the shower and threw his clothes on.”
Jidas called 9-1-1 and grabbed his EpiPen. He glanced at the EpiPen and it was past the expiration date but it was still clear.
“I looked at him and he rolled to his side,” Jidas said. “I said ‘I can’t let him die.’ She (the emergency operator) walked me through the process. I held it there for ten seconds. Then, he started feeling better. He was talking again before he was just lost.”
“He stayed the there the whole time,” Stephens smiled. “He was cool, calm and collected. He ran down the street to make sure the EMS found the address. It was really considerate of him to do that.”
Jidas admitted he did not feel calm and collected.
“I will tell you that was the scariest thing I have ever been through in my life,” he said, “By the grace of God I didn’t get stung.”
Stephens was taken to emergency where they kept him under observation for three times. He later found out he wasn’t stung 6-8 times like he had thought but 27 times.
“On my knee alone there is seven. There are still some little stingers in my knee,” he said, adding his son found one in his back. “I wondered what made me have a reaction was it one or two. But 27, I could see having a reaction.”
Stephens said EMS was quick and professional and the 9-1-1 operator was great.
“This is a positive for the community as far as I am concerned,” he said. “Tom called me when I got home that night. He called to follow up to see how I was doing. He is a really humble guy.”
Jidas later learned there is a Good Samaritan law.
“I wasn’t really worried about that. I was just thinking this guy is going to die,” he said.
“He took a chance to save me. Regardless. Some people might hesitant in this day and age,” Stephens said.
Jidas added he has been blessed – on jobs and also with the EpiPen he had with him.
“It was Lord Jesus who gave me that EpiPen,” he said, explaining he went to the doctor to get one because he is allergic. “He gave me a coupon for $100. I went to get it and it was $450 with coupon. Okay, I am going to get some Benadryl. The guy at church heard that and he said I have one for you.”
“The name is Dependable Septic and believe me they are,” said Stephens.