The Safety Officer
BACKGROUND: Retired Sheet Metal Worker, Fisherman
HOMETOWN: Portland, OR
Jim Thurber is a hard-working and dependable guy who wears his heart on his sleeve. He’s known Todd since they were children, and has been through thick and thin with him. Four years ago Thurber was the first to join the Hoffman crew mining for gold in Alaska, leaving behind a steady job as a sheet metal worker.
As the camp safety officer, Thurber was responsible for making sure no one gets hurt working in one of the most dangerous workplaces — an active mine site, patrolled by wild grizzly bears. Thurber didn’t know a thing about gold at the start, but over four seasons, he became an essential part of a successful mining team- that is, until they failed to find gold in Guyana.
Last year, returning home without the means to provide for his family proved soul-destroying. With Todd unsure of his future, Thurber has had to take work as a carpenter, and is struggling to make ends meet. He believes his glory days of mining gold are now in the past. “My days of chasing rainbows are over," he says.