Injured Electric Boat employee credits coworker with saving her life

Groton — An Electric Boat employee, injured in a fall last week and scheduled to be released from the hospital Wednesday, said through her lawyer that a coworker is the only reason she's alive.

Eric Schoenberg, an attorney with the Freeman Law Firm in Hartford, is representing the injured employee, Tanessa Pabon, in two workers' compensation claims related to her May 7 fall at EB's Groton shipyard.

Schoenberg said Pabon, recently released from the intensive care unit, still has "numerous complications from the fall."

"She sustained trauma to nearly her entire body, including several serious internal injuries," he said.

Pabon was scheduled to be discharged Wednesday from Yale New Haven Hospital to a long-term care rehabilitation facility.

Schoenberg filed two workers' compensation claims on Monday on behalf of Pabon, one with the State of Connecticut Workers' Compensation Commission and the other with the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Workers Compensation Programs. He declined to comment on any possible legal action beyond those two claims.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration started an investigation into the incident on May 8. EB also is investigating. Company spokeswoman Liz Power has declined to comment further.

Pabon, who is in her early twenties, fell about 30 feet while power-washing a submarine, Schoenberg said. She was found unconscious, face-down in fluid. Pabon is crediting a coworker, who performed the Heimlich maneuver on her "several times," with "single-handedly saving her life," Schoenberg said.

"She also wants to thank the staff at Yale New Haven Hospital who have provided her with outstanding medical care," Schoenberg said.

Pabon had worked at EB as a painter for less than six months at the time of the accident, meaning she was considered a probationary employee. As a painter, she is a member of the Metal Trades Council, the bargaining unit for most shipyard workers. Her job duties include preparing surfaces to be painted, whether it be power-washing, sandblasting, sanding or cleaning, Schoenberg said.

j.bergman@theday.com

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