By Jayson Jacoby
When Nolan Harrington broke his neck in an ATV crash on June 2, his friend, David Hays, figured the most helpful thing he could do was pick up a hammer.
While Harrington was recovering in a Boise hospital, his buddy was pounding nails.
The same nails Harrington would have driven under more pleasant circumstances.
Both Harrington, 37, and Hays, 38, are local building contractors.
It is, as you might expect, pretty tough to build something when your neck is broken.
Especially something substantial, like a house.
But that's the job Harrington, who was in the hospital for five days, contracted to do.
With his friend laid up for the next three months, Hays, who owns Big Creek Builders, gathered his crew.
They, along with Harrington's business partner, Morgan Rust, spent two days installing roof sheeting on the home that Steve Farstad, a contractor that both Hays and Harrington have worked for, is building on G Street in Baker City.
The work got done.
And Harrington got paid.
"Dave's a hell of a guy," Harrington said Tuesday. "He's a good friend."
Hays has a succinct explanation for why he filled in for Harrington.
"He'd have been there for me."
Farstad said he's never known a contractor who did what Hays did for Harrington.
"That's a first for me in 41 years as a contractor," Farstad said.
Farstad said Harrington worked for him for 13 years.
When Farstad began planning his retirement, he said he urged Harrington and Rust to start their own company.
The pair now owns High Mountain Builders.
"I think the world of Nolan," Farstad said. "He's just a like a son, he worked for me for so long."
Farstad said Hays has worked for him as a subcontractor on several jobs over the past several years.
By volunteering to finish the roof work, Hays not only helped Harrington, but he made sure plumbers and other subcontractors weren't delayed on the G Street house job, Farstad said.
"If David hadn't done that it would have really put a lot of people in a bind," Farstad said.
Harrington, who graduated from Baker High School in 1993, a year before Hays, said his friend's donated labor was a big boost for his business while he waits for his doctor to clear him to return to work.
Harrington said he should be able to resume "light" work within three months.
He figures he'll be able to return to construction sites then, with Rust along to do the heavier lifting.
Harrington said other community residents have raised money for medical expenses and helped him and his wife, Robin, and daughter, Natasha, 16, in other ways since his accident.
"It's been really great," Harrington said.