There are heroes in our brewing world, many of whom many of us will never know. But, behind the scenes, these unheralded folk do great work creating and bringing us our beers.
And sometimes they do more —much more— than that.
Around 10:00am on Friday, April 10 2009, Mark D. Moynihan was preparing to do a welding job inside a brewery vat at Calhoun's in Knoxville. While inside the vat he told others he was having a hard time breathing in the confined space. Someone opened a valve to pump oxygen into the cooler for him, and when Mark sparked the torch, it immediately exploded. Mark was able to climb out of the 18 inch opening where others extinguished the flames.
Mark was transported to UT Medical Center in Knoxville, where he was initially assessed and the determination was made to transport him immediately to the burn unit at Vanderbilt Medical Center. Due to severe weather, the medical helicopters were grounded and he had to be transported via ambulance. During transit, there were severe thunderstorms and 6 tornadoes touched down in the path from Knoxville to Nashville. He arrived at Vanderbilt around 2:30pm CST, with family members arriving from various directions shortly after.
Dr Guy assessed Mark upon arrival and began him on hydrotherapy preparing him for surgery. He met with us at that time and gave us the report none of us were prepared to hear. Mark has third degree burns on 98% of his body.
After fighting what must have been an excruciatingly painful battle, Mark Moynihan —homebrewer and good beer partisan— passed away yesterday, 23 June 2009.
I never knew Mark personally, but I came to know him through the wonderful, loving blog his brother-in-law wrote. My condolences to Mark's family, and to all who knew this courageous man. All of us have a lost a brother-in-beer.
Read more at Mark's Marathon.
This can be a cautionary tale. Governmental safety watchdogs and their regulations —as officious and burdensome as they may occasionally be— exist to forestall tragedy.