After almost 30 years in the business, Roy Grace had experienced a lot of what the film industry has to offer. He was one of those veteran crewmen who had probably seen it all.
That all changed on June 2, 2008, while shooting in Boston. In the space of a few seconds, Grace’s life would be changed forever. With his attention focused elsewhere, a water truck (that had its warning beeper removed to stay quiet on the set) backed into him, knocked him to the ground, and crushed his right leg.
“One of my coworkers, Doug Weaver, saved me,” recalled Grace, while on the set of “Cowboys and Aliens” at Universal Studios. “He ran over and pounded on the truck to get it to move away. The driver never felt the truck hit me.”
Grace was rushed to the hospital with severe trauma to his leg. The doctors decided to induce a coma for three days – rather than subject him to the pain of his injury – while they decided on a course of action. “I didn’t find out until later that while I was in a coma, they told my wife I had only a 50 percent chance of survival,” he said. “They were thinking that amputation was the only option to save my life.”
When he was brought out of the coma there was one doctor who was convinced his leg could be saved. Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Mark Vrahas, who Grace describes as “a miracle worker,” took it upon himself to rebuild the injured leg. Due to the belief of Dr. Vrahas, and more than a truckload of fighting spirit, Roy Grace is back doing what he loves — almost two years to the day after his accident.
“The best therapy I’ve had so far is being back at work,” said Grace. “I love this job, working with these people, and getting back to work was the best thing.”
It wasn’t just back at work where Grace felt support from his fellow Local 399 Teamsters. “Leo Reed and Randy Peterson checked in on me for the entire two years that I was out. The outpouring of support really meant a lot. I learned what union brotherhood really means.”
Grace, who has driven specialized equipment his whole career, has known Reed for many years. “I started out in Georgia and did my first show out there in 1979,” Grace explained. “But I actually met Leo in a small town in Arizona over ten years ago. They were picketing a show I was working, and I decided to walk off the job and grab a picket sign with Leo and Randy.”
“It was very brave of him to honor our picket line and it is something I never forgot,” remembers Secretary-Treasurer Reed. “When I found out he got hurt, I wanted to make sure we did whatever we could to help him.”
Now, after 27 months, Grace stands next to his four generators, proudly supplying power to the set of a blockbuster movie. He knows that a once life-threatening injury might have ended his career. But here he is, working with people he respects in the industry he loves, and he wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.