Bart Griffiths was shagging a lost softball in a ditch recently when he became an unlikely hero, pulling a wheelchair-bound man from snake-laden muck.
Griffiths, 51, was retrieving a home run hit over the left-field fence at the Willow Park Sports Complex in Logan, Utah, during a recreational softball playoff game. That’s when he spotted something gray in the stagnant waters of an irrigation ditch.
"I was looking around for the ball – I want to save the city money. Those balls cost $4 apiece. Everyone wants to hit 'em but nobody wants to go fetch 'em," he told the Los Angeles Times.
"That’s when something gray caught my eye. To be honest, my first thought was, 'Some idiot dumped some crap over there.' "
Actually, a 62-year-old man had crashed his motorized wheelchair into the edge of the canal and was thrown into 6 inches of water. All Griffiths could see was the tip of the chair.
"It was the first game of the night, so it was still light out," he told The Times. "I saw the chair and thought, 'Why didn’t the person take that to the dump?' I never thought it would be attached to somebody."
But it was.
The man was lying face down in the water. Griffiths thought he was a goner.
"I lifted him up and saw he had cuts on his face. I said, 'Can you hear me?' And he said, 'I'm dying,' " Griffiths said. "And I thought to myself, 'Well, that's a good sign. At least he’s talking.' "
Griffiths called 911 and waited in the water, on the lookout for snakes.
The victim survived, but police cited him for public intoxication.
"He was pretty lubed, I guess," Griffiths said. "I could smell the alcohol on his breath."
Griffiths, who's largely responsible for running the softball league, is being called a hero.
"I’d like to think every other human would do the same thing I did," he told The Times. "I just retrieve those balls for exercise, usually with a rake."
He added: "I’m the guy who makes sure the lights get turned on, and that the umps do their job. Really, I’m just the old guy who can’t play anymore. Hero? No way."