A Solana Beach man cried as he reunited with the two postal workers who saved his life in September, hugging them as he thanked them for their kindness.
“These are my heroes,” Solana Beach resident Joel Gerber said after reuniting with the two USPS workers in his garage on Thursday.
Gerber, a semi-retired federal judge appointed by the late President Ronald Reagan in 1984, was working in his garage on Sept. 7 on a woodworking project when a mishap sent him flying through the air.
It was on that same day in September when postal worker Greg Wilder was delivering mail to Gerber's home at the exact moment the accident happened.
“I looked up and then it went boom!” Wilder recalled.
The 18-inch bowl Gerber was working on somehow came loose, hit the lathe machine and broke, shooting half of the bowl into Gerber's jaw and chest.
“I’m just glad I was there,” Wilder said at the reunion. It was a lucky coincidence for Gerber - his house isn't on Wilder's usual route.
“Im glad you were there too," Gerber said. "I am only alive because you were here."
After the malfunction, Gerber was tossed through the air and landed on his back across the garage, where he hit his head on the concrete floor.
The impact of the accident pushed Gerber's jaw into his ear and left him with 35 stitches in his chin and another couple dozen in the back of his head. He later underwent surgery to reconnect his jaw.
Wilder ran to Gerber's side after the accident, and fellow worker Joe Meyer pulled up in his postal service truck shortly after. They helped call 911 and ensure he got medical attention he needed.
But at the reunion, Gerber wasn't the only one saying thank you.
"I just want to thank you for taking time out of your day to say hi to us every time you see us," Meyer said. "I always enjoy delivering to your house."
"I consider you more of a brother than just a consumer at the post office," Wilder said.
Gerber has since put the ash wood bowl he was working on back together. The glued crack is still visible where it split in half and knocked him in the head. He even saved the screws that held his jaw together and screwed them into the top of the bowl.
It was on the bottom of the bowl where Gerber threw in a little bit of his sense of humor.
On the bottom, Gerber said he “wrote on the back of this bowl a nice piece of ash that packed a knock out punch."