Plucky turtle a concrete stowaway [The-Columbus-Dispatch 2006-05-05]
Plucky turtle a concrete stowaway
Reptile ends up in newly poured floor
[Photo] TIM REVELL DISPATCH. The turtle rescued by a construction worker can move its arms and tail, but its mouth is still closed and its eyes are shut.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
Had the worker not seen the quivering lump, a slow death would have been certain.
The worker, using a heavy trowel machine to smooth the newly poured concrete floor, saw the 2-inch-long turtle just before noon Wednesday as it struggled to escape entombment.
"Somehow he survived the trip over from the plant and from the pump up to the fifth floor and then the finishing machines that drove over it," said Jeff Ruschau, project manager at Messer Construction, the general contractor on the new Nationwide building going up at Marconi and Nationwide boulevards.
"It’s not uncommon," said Art Marchi, vice president of sales at Anderson Concrete on Frank Road.
"You’re in the lakes next to our stockpiles and turtles will crawl out and (sun)bathe themselves on a pile and may fall asleep or something," said Marchi, a 30-year veteran of the concrete business.
Being scooped, dropped and mashed in a violent soup of gravel, sand and concrete was only the beginning for the armored reptile.
The turtle also survived the churning trip inside the concrete truck. And at the job site, the lumpy mixture was pumped up a tube and dumped out. The entire odyssey would have lasted more than four hours.
"It was quite a journey," Marchi said.
Then it survived the trowel machine, which uses rotating blades and its quarter-ton weight to smooth nearly cured concrete.
"The guy thought it was a piece of wire mesh until it started moving," said Marchi, who recalled finding turtles and even a snake on jobs. "It’s not unusual to get critters."
The trowel-machine operator, an employee for Cincinnati-based Jostin Concrete, could not be reached for comment.
Messer’s Ruschau called Anderson with a cryptic message that Marchi figured out only yesterday: "I’ve got something that belongs to you."
Most turtles native to Columbus are water and box turtles and are equipped to withstand some trauma, said Don Winstel, Columbus Zoo assistant director of conservation and education. A turtle can retract its head and limbs for protection, and it hibernates during the winter.
"It probably is a reflection of them being able to bury in the mud so well and not have to come up for air," Winstel said. "Its metabolism may not have been requiring a lot of oxygen."
His concern is "what all it consumed and took in through the eyes and nose."
Still, he said "It’s amazing to think of it going through all that and still fighting its way to the surface."
Yesterday, the recuperating turtle appeared to be in good condition at Messer’s office at the job site.