Accident Fund Insurance Co. of America is reversing its denial of workers' compensation benefits for a Joplin, Missouri, man deemed a hero for saving three men with Down syndrome from the Joplin tornado.
According to a widely reported Associated Press story, Mark Lindquist suffered broken ribs, a shoulder injury, the loss of most of his teeth and spent about two months in a coma after 200 mph winds tossed him nearly a block.
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A Missouri Senate resolution hailed him as a "true hero" for helping protect the three middle-aged men living in a group home that had no basement.
On May 22, Lindquist and a co-worker placed mattresses over the three men and then laid atop the mattresses to help hold them down because they reportedly moved too slowly to make it to a shelter.
Now, the 51-year-old social worker's medical expenses have exceeded $2.5 million and are still mounting. He reportedly has no medical insurance.
Accident Fund said Oct. 24 that when it denied the claim, it was operating under the dictates of state law that limit recovery for injuries received during a tornado to situations where the employee was subjected to a greater harm than that of the general public.
But on Monday, Lansing, Michigan-based Accident Fund issued a statement saying it had received additional information about the claim.
"Accident Fund (now) believes the appropriate decision is to honor Mr. Mark Lindquist's claim for workers compensation benefits," Mike Britt, the insurer's president, said in the statement. "We are committed to working with Mr. Lindquist to ensure he receives all the benefits to which he is entitled and helping him to recover from his injuries."
According to news reports, the three men whom Lindquist was attempting to save died in one of the nation's worst tornadoes.