A little past midnight on Aug. 7, 2012, Teamsters Local 700 IDOT member Miguel Silva, Jr. was helping a motorist on the side of the outbound Dan Ryan Expressway near 26th Street when another driver struck him and sped away. He was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital and was suffering from broken bones and internal bleeding. He was in very critical condition.
Silva, a U.S. Army veteran, started working for IDOT at the North side yard in 2003 as a highway maintainer and became an Emergency Traffic Patrol (ETP) worker in 2006. ETPs, also known as Minutemen, are often dispatched to take immediate action to correct traffic disruptions and potential safety problems caused by accidents, disabled vehicles or hazardous debris.
After being brought to the hospital, Silva had actually been declared dead moments before the doctors were able to revive him.
“All I remember is waking up at the hospital,” said Silva. “I passed away that night and they brought me back.”
Silva spent several months in the hospital. He underwent surgeries, rounds of physical therapy and fought hard everyday to gain his life back. Silva’s wife and his four children (current ages 14, 16, 20 and 25) were the reasons he kept pushing through the pain.
“It was tough on the family,” said Silva. “My children were crying. My wife wouldn’t leave the hospital bed and was with me every single day.”
Just last year – nearly three years after the incident took place – Silva finally felt “back to normal.” He knew he wanted to come back to work and continue life as it was before the incident. He reached out to Local 700 to help him get back to the job he never wanted to leave.
“I want to work,” said Silva. “I always wanted to come back to work. It’s what a man is supposed to do – work and take care of his family. I called on the union to help me out and they came through. The union has always had my back. Everyone should know that the Teamsters are behind us.”
Since March of this year, Silva has been back at the IDOT North side yard as a highway maintainer. After getting his life back, Silva is grateful and says everyday has been a celebration with his wife and children.
“Many of our members who work on roads and highways face hazardous conditions on the job,” said Becky Strzechowski, Teamsters Local 700 President. “What Miguel went through is horrible and it was a very emotional burden on his family. On behalf of the Local 700 Executive Board, we commend Miguel for his strength and perseverance to survive and go back to work. He is a true Teamster.”
“It was a battle,” said Silva. “I thank God I was able to come back and now I’m working again. I refuse to stay down.”