If you hear someone screaming, do you run towards them, or away? Hopefully, you don’t have to be in that position, but for Bill Gaito, 21-year member of Local 315 before becoming Executive Director of the Teamsters Assistance Program, having to make that choice became real on June 19, and he rushed in to help.
Gaito was in his backyard in San Rafael, coaching a 9-year-old budding softball player, when he heard blood-curdling screams. Neither he nor the player’s father, Keith Hessleton, could tell exactly where the screams were coming from, but they both ran towards the sound. Hessleton arrived first at a house across the street; he jumped the 6-foot backyard fence and saw a woman on the ground. He quickly realized that there was a man, partially hidden by bushes, who was choking her and stabbing her with gardening shears. Hessleton pulled the man off of the woman and pinned him down.
When he realized that Hessleton had the man in check, Gaito went to check on the woman, who was gushing blood from being stabbed on the neck and shoulders. He broke open the gate and pulled the woman to the street to check her injuries. She alerted Gaito that the man had a gun. Hessleton found the man’s holster, but it was empty. In the case that he was laying on top of the gun, Gaito went back to help restrain him until the police arrived.
The man, later identified as Charles Tooker, had previously dated the woman and was violating a restraining order that she had out against him. The Marin County Sheriff’s Office arrested the man and quickly found the gun under the bushes.
With bail set at $650,000, Tooker remains in jail facing several charges, including attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and domestic violence. The woman was released from the hospital the following day, but is clearly nervous about Tooker if he gets out of jail.
After the incident, Hesselton and Gaito went back to finish the softball lesson, but you can be sure that this is an incident that neither will soon forget.
Dan Sullivan, a Local 853 member who works for Central Concrete Supply, was driving a concrete mixer through an industrial area of San Jose, like a lot of days on the job.
As reported by the San Jose Mercury News, he heard a “big bang” and thought someone hit the back of his truck. Then he saw a cloud of dust appear in the roadway. “When the dust cleared, I witnessed a police motorcycle lying on its side,” he said.
And there in the roadway was a severely injured Officer Michael Katherman. In seconds, Sullivan said he used his 50-foot rig to block traffic and protect him and rushed to his aid. “I was out of my truck in two seconds and ran across the street as fast as I could.”
Another man was with the officer and had commandeered the officer’s police radio to call for help. Then he handed the radio over to Sullivan, who offered more details to dispatchers.
But Katherman, a 34-year-old married father of two young sons and 11-year member of the force, succumbed to his injuries. He was the 13th San Jose Police Department officer to die in the line of duty and the second while patrolling on a motorcycle.
Sullivan said he’s haunted by the images of what he saw. “When you see a police officer down in the line of duty, it’s something I’ll never forget,” Sullivan said. “It all happened so fast.”
What the police department will never forget is how Sullivan and at least two other witnesses sprang into action to help Katherman.
“We can’t lose sight of the fact that we had residents of the city that didn’t just make a call on their cellphones, but physically tried to save his life and picked up his police radio,” police Chief Eddie Garcia said Wednesday. “I’m still in awe about that.”
On May 21, more than 3,000 Teamster members from across Joint Council 7 enjoyed a huge tailgate party before the Oakland As vs. New York Yankees game at the Oakland Coliseum.
Travis Bornstein, President of Teamsters Local 24 in Akron, Ohio spoke at the Convention about the loss of his son Tyler to a drug over- dose. Tyler, an accomplished college student and athlete, became addicted to drugs after being prescribed pain medication for injuries.
After Tyler’s death, the Bornstein family formed “Breaking Barriers–Hope is Alive” in his honor. The non-profit organization brings awareness, educates the public and inspires breakthroughs in treating people suffering from addiction.
After Bornstein’s presentation, the International Union, Joint Councils and local unions pledged more than $1.4 million over the course of an hour to the fight Bornstein said after taking in the response of his fellow Teamsters. “We are going to stand up and fight, against addiction. The money will fund a drug treatment facility built in Tyler Bornstein’s honor. The plan is to build it on the current vacant lot in Akron, Ohio where Tyler was left to die in September 2014.
“Listen, brothers and sisters, I’ve never had a moment like this in my life,” an overwhelmed Travis Bornstein said after taking in the response of his fellow Teamsters. “We are going to stand up and fight, and we aren’t going to let you down.” See the full video of Bornstein’s moving speech at www.teamster.org and join the fight. Donations may be made on-line at: www.NowWeFightForYou.com.