SEATTLE — A Machinists Union member who lost both legs below the knee in a high-profile accident at the Boeing Co. came to a local lodge meeting in September to thank his co-workers and his union for all they’d done for him.
“I greatly appreciate the cards and all of the support,” Josh Divers told fellow Machinists Union Local Lodge 751-A members, after he waked up the stairs on his new prosthetic legs to address the lodge from the stage at the Seattle Union Hall.
“My buddies and all my crew coming down to see me — the support’s been overwhelming,” he said. “It’s great to have you always there.”
Divers was injured on Feb. 3. He was part of a crew walking with a 787 while it was being towed that night. He was run over and dragged about 12 feet. His feet were crushed under the landing gear and both of his legs were later amputated below the knee.
Washington’s Department of Labor & Industries investigated and found Boeing managers had committed several safety violations. L&I fined the company $3,600 in connection with the incident.
The safety issues L&I identified have been corrected, the agency said in July when it issued the fine.
Today, Divers said he’s getting intensive physical therapy and is “trying to get out of the house as much as possible.”
He’s able to walk and even drive, but when he’s on his artificial feet for too long, the stumps of his legs begin to ache, Divers said.
Still, the doctors tell him his progress has been remarkable. The day he got fitted with his second prosthetic leg, Divers said he was able to walk outside the hospital. No other amputee has done that, the doctors told him.
“I was like ‘Yes!’” Divers said, pumping his fist. “It’s only been six months and I’m up and walking. The doctor said 18 months.”
To pass the time, Divers has been restoring a 1936 Chevrolet delivery truck. “Before I had my ‘legs’ I was able to get out there with my wheelchair,” he said. “It was better than laying down all the time.”
Tommy Wilson, a business representative for Machinists Union District Lodge 751, was involved in the accident investigation. He’s been in close contact with Divers and his family since the accident.
“This man has got one helluva heart,” Wilson said. He credited Divers’ family and friends for keeping his spirits up and helping his recovery.
Other Machinists Union representatives have also been helpful, Divers said.
“Anything that I need, any questions, I just give them a call,” he said. “They’re basically doing anything and everything they can. And instead of just occasionally showing up, these guys have been there through the whole entire thing.”
Divers said his goal is to return to work at Boeing. He said he’ll get evaluated by doctors later this fall, and if all goes well, he could be back in Everett sometime after the first of the year.
“I’m hoping to come back as soon as I can,” Divers said. “I’ve been bored. I need to work.”
His union brothers and sisters will do all they can to help, Wilson said. “We’re going to be there with him the day he walks back into that plant.”
Originally formed in 1935 to represent hourly workers at Boeing, District Lodge 751 of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers now represents more than 32,000 working men and women at 48 employers through a network of local lodges in Seattle, Richland, Spokane and Wenatchee.
For more information about District 751, read the Machinists News.