True to form, well-known local Good Samaritan Jeff “Grizzly” Groner was helping others when he was injured in a gas explosion Thursday night.
Jeff had just picked up Jennifer, his wife of almost 15 years, from work in Wilsonville, and the couple were headed to check on her parents’ place in Deer Creek Estates, a mobile home park in Aurora.
On Highway 551, the Groners saw something on fire in the backyard of a home and stopped to investigate. Finding no one home, Jeff went around to the back of the house to check things out.
The fire appeared to be coming from a generator in the backyard — and was near enough that the house was in danger. Jeff and another man who had stopped to help found a hose but there was no running water.
Jennifer, another Canby native who’s also known by the nickname “Jenno,” recalls walking up and asking if she should call 911.
As Jeff turned to say, “Yes,” a nearby fuel tank that was attached to the generator exploded, ripping through his thick overalls, opening a large gash in his side and numerous other cuts and scratches.
“Thankfully, I was already dialing 911,” she tells The Canby Current. “As I turned back, my husband was on the ground, screaming in pain. I was a frantic mess trying to tell the person on the phone what was going on.”
Jeff was rushed to Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, where he was patched back together — including 17 staples in his left side. Miraculously, he suffered no internal damage and is expected to make a full recovery.
He was discharged later that same night.
Be advised the following photos, courtesy Jennifer Groner, are extremely graphic. We share them to show the miraculousness of Jeff Groner’s survival of this incident, as well as underscore the danger of leaving generators unattended and the need to operate them safely.
“He is doing OK,” Jennifer says. “He is really sore and can’t move a lot today.”
In his own post to the local Facebook group Canby Now late Thursday, Jeff reported, “Thank you all so very much for the thoughts and prayers! I am now home and have eaten some food. I hurt like hell… but I’m still upright and that’s all right by me! It’s going to be a long 10 days, but I should be fine with a gnarly scar to tell the tale.”
Jeff, a well-known retail service specialist at O’Reilly Auto Parts, is active throughout the Canby and Molalla communities and is something of a local legend for helping people in need.
“My husband is an amazing man,” Jennifer says. “He has a heart that is so big, the kind of guy that would give the shirt off his back. He is willing to help anyone. He was born and raised in this town so he knows just about everyone.”
“Grizz is one of the best humans I have ever met in my life,” says Jessi Rae La Main, a musician who met him eight years ago when he helped her load band equipment at Wranglers Western Bar & Grill (now the Route 99 Roadhouse). “He helped me load my gear into the venue and has been a buddy ever since.”
He is known around town as “the guy to help everyone,” La Main says.
“He and his wife, Jenno, are truly a blessing,” she says. “From fixing people’s cars, moving heavy stuff, to handing out resources during emergencies.”
The couple even took time off work to help evacuate entire families and livestock during the wildfires last September.
“Literally two of the most generous, kind and helpful people I have ever met,” one resident said on Facebook. “They will always do whatever they can to help those around them: dig people out and pull cars out of ditches during a snowstorm, drive you home when you’ve drunk too much and drop your truck at your house, bring you food and comfort when you have surgery, care for your kids when you don’t have a sitter or are desperate for a date night, grocery shop for you when you’re quarantined during a pandemic, and I could go on and on and on.”
Another commenter agreed wholeheartedly.
“I could not have worded this better!” she said. “Always there no matter what. They never put themselves before anything. They will help any stranger any friend or family member. They are amazing.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family while Jeff recovers from his injuries.