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N.Z. truckie 'blew up like balloon' in freak accident

25 may 2011, 16:58
0
©AFP
©AFP
A New Zealand truck driver who inflated "like a balloon" when he fell buttocks-first onto a compressed air nozzle was described as lucky to be alive Wednesday, AFP reports.

Steven McCormack was working on his truck at Opotiki on the North Island on Saturday when he slipped between the cab and the trailer, dislodging the compressed air hose that feeds the brakes, the Whakatane Beacon reported.

It said the brass fitting that the hose had been attached to pierced McCormack's left buttock in the fall, sending compressed air rushing into his body.

The 48-year-old said he felt as if he was going to explode and began to scream as his neck, feet and hands swelled up.

"I was blowing up like a football... it felt like I had the bends, like in diving. I had no choice but just to lay there, blowing up like a balloon," he told the newspaper.

Workmates rushed to McCormack's aid, turning off the compressed air and packing ice around his swollen neck.

Ambulance officers removed the brass nozzle from his buttock and rushed him to Whakatane Hospital, where a surgeon treated the injury and drained one of his lungs, which had filled with fluid during the ordeal.

McCormack said doctors later told him that the air separated fat from muscle and they were surprised his skin did not burst.

Now recuperating in Whakatane Hospital, he told the Beacon his skin felt "like a pork roast", hard and crackly on the outside but soft underneath.

A hospital spokeswoman confirmed details of the freak accident, which she said could have killed McCormack.

"It's fair to say he's lucky to be alive, it was a potentially life-threatening situation," she told AFP on Wednesday.

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