Does Not Jumping Into a Vat of Acid Make You Any Less of a Hero?

This article is from the archive of our partner .

People have good reason for freaking out about a New Jersey roofer who reportedly jumped into a vat of acid to save a co-worker, because who actually likes their co-workers that much? But there's some confusion as to whether 51-year-old Rob Nuckols actually jumped into the acid after 44-year-old roofer Martin Davis, or if he was simply one of four colleagues who helped pull Davis out.

This is one of those stories where you're better off just reading the headline, if you're looking for pure excitement: "Man jumps into vat of acid to save co-worker," as CBS has it, tells just enough of the story. But it's a little more nuanced than that, report the buzz-kills over at The Record of Woodland Park. First of all, while "Clifton Fire Chief Vincent Colavitti Jr. initially said that one of the co-workers, Rob Nuckols, 51, of Frenchtown, had jumped into the vat," but then: "Nuckols declined to comment Monday night, but a relative, who asked that her name not be used, said he did not jump into the vat but was among four workers who pulled Davis to safety."

Also, the 40 percent solution of nitric acid into which Davis fell is not the instant skin-melter you're probably thinking of. Davis was red, The Record reports, but his broken rib and punctured lung sound worse than his colleagues make the acid out to be. “It’s not that kind of acid,” one worker at the Swepco pipe factory told The Record. “It’s diluted. He’s going to be fine.”

The New York Times is still reporting Nuckols jumped in, as fire officials had said. Whether he did or not, it sounds like all of Davis's coworkers put themselves at risk to save the roofer. They all got taken to the hospital after the ordeal, and they all helped get their colleague to safety. Whichever way this unfolded, it was certainly a more harrowing workplace disaster than most of us will ever likely face.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.