WARNING – GRAPHIC IMAGES: A roof painter is lucky to be alive after narrowly surviving a freak accident that left him just millimetres from death.
Michael Richard was working on the ground floor roof of a two-storey home when he fell and landed face down on the ground – but didn’t realise he was injured until he tried to get up.
“Next thing I know is I’m on the ground and I tried to stand up and I can’t stand up,” Mr Richard, from Nederland in Texas, told 12NewsNow.
The experienced painter had landed on a piece of steel rebar sticking out from the ground, piercing through his neck and out the back of his skull.
Shocking images show Mr Richard kneeling near the garden bed, unable to move, with several inches of the metal rod extending from his head.
A co-worker was able to use bolt cutters to cut the rebar from the ground, allowing Mr Richard to stand up with about 60cm of the metal bar protruding from his head.
Paramedics stunned by man's injury
"Stuff like this doesn't happen very often, and it usually doesn't have a good outcome,” Mr Richard said.
Doctors told him the rebar was “just millimetres” from hitting his voice box and his spinal cord and vital arteries.
Paramedic Ashley Thomason told the news outlet they’d never seen anything like it before.
“We can train for this all day long, it’s almost 20 years for me, and I’ve never seen anything like this and I probably never will again,” Ms Thomason said.
“The biggest thing was keeping him calm, stabilising his neck and just getting him to the closest trauma centre so they can take over from there.”
A GoFundMe has been started for Mr Richard, who is the sole income earner for his family and will need to take time off work to recover.
Describing the incident on the fundraising page, Mr Richard said the surgery was completed in about an hour and he was put on a liquid diet for two days afterwards.
"The doctor said it was millimetres from severing several vital arteries and damaging my oesophagus and voice box," Mr Richard explained.
"The rebar did nick a minor jugular vein but the vascular surgeon was able to patch it right up."
He is now urging others to live every day like it’s their last.
"If you love someone tell them. If you need to help someone or lift them up, do it. You never know how long you have sometimes just millimetres,” he said on the GoFundMe page.
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