Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Public safety

Hudson man loses legs when forklift rolls over him at Hernando Beach marina

HERNANDO BEACH — A 51-year-old Hudson man lost both of his legs Thursday morning when a forklift from a Hernando Beach marina rolled over him.

Justin Runyon, 26, said he was working with his father, James Runyon, about 8 a.m., installing metal wheel stops on property belonging to Blue Pelican Marina, 5000 Calienta St., next to the Hernando Beach public boat ramp, when the accident occurred.

The forklift, driven by marina owner Gordon Wolf, 54, approached the seawall, where the men were taking measurements for the new stops, when it suddenly started rolling toward them. The impact shoved James Runyon into a metal fence and severed his legs.

"My dad did everything he could to try to get out of the way," an emotional Justin Runyon said. "But it all happened too fast."

Paramedics arrived shortly after the accident to find the elder Runyon pinned beneath the machine, but conscious. He was taken by ambulance to a nearby landing zone, where a waiting helicopter flew him to Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point in Hudson.

Justin Runyon said late Thursday that his father was still unconscious after surgery and would likely remain so for the next couple of days.

"They say they think he's going to be okay," Runyon said.

Runyon said he believes the 20,000-pound Wiggins heavy-duty forklift involved in the accident had been switched off. Doing so, he said, likely made the hydraulic brakes inoperable. He said he saw Wolfe jump from the machine just before it tumbled into the water.

A spokesman for the marina said Wolf would not comment.

The Hernando County Sheriff's Office said the accident remains under investigation.

Logan Neill can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1435.

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