Splitting Headache: Man survives horrific construction accident
August 28, 2003
Truckee resident Ron Hunt, who has been dubbed “Miracle Man” by friends, survived being impaled through the eye with an 18-inch long, 1 1/2-inch diameter chip auger drill bit.
While using a drill above his head on Aug. 15, the six-foot ladder he was standing on started to wobble, Hunt’s nephew Ben Hunt said. “The ladder started to ‘walk’ on him,” Ben said. “He lost his balance and threw the drill down – which is normal for us (construction workers).”
Then, he fell off the ladder face-first and onto the drill, which went through his right eye and out his skull, just above his right ear. According to Ben, doctors told him the drill pushed his brain aside, rather than impaling it, which could have caused further – and most likely vastly more extensive – damage.
Ron was airlifted by Care Flight to Washoe Medical Center in Reno, where Ben and his father (Ron’s brother) Chris met him in the emergency room.
“The nurses braced us for it before we saw him,” Ben said. “It didn’t seem real – it seemed like a movie. I wasn’t sure what to feel.”
Ben said at that point the nurses had cleaned him up, but the drill was still in. Still, Ben said his uncle was doing better than he expected. “He was talking, telling jokes,” he said. “It didn’t seem possible for him to be alive, seeing him with a drill bit through his head.”
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Corrin Keck, a friend of Ron’s, said other than loss of sight in his right eye, she has not seen any major effects. “At this point, we haven’t noticed any problems with his motor skills and speech.” She did say that he, obviously, is in some pain, but he is dealing with it.
In addition, Ben said he has suffered “a little bit of nerve damage in his face – his smile is a little different on that side.”
Ron was in surgery again Monday, getting titanium plates put in underneath his eye and on the side of his head, Keck said.
The hardest part, she said, is he was not insured for the job he was performing. According to Ben, he did have insurance, but for this particular job he was listed as a sub-contractor, and was not covered under his insurance.
Keck has begun to organize fund-raisers for his hospital bills, which are already starting to accumulate. She said he already has a bill from Care Flight and the medical procedures he has gone through. Keck said she does not know how much the bills will amount to, but she hopes to simply help out.
In addition to fund-raisers, Keck set up the “Ron Hunt Medical Fund” at Bank of the West. Donations to the Ron Hunt Medical Fund may be made at any Bank of the West.
Although the loss of sight and nerve damage is not to be taken lightly, Ron’s family and friends are looking on the bright side. Ben said the accident could have been much worse – anywhere from major brain damage to death – so everyone is very thankful he didn’t suffer more damage.
He will get a glass eye, Ben said, and half-joked, “He’ll just have a lazy eye.”
“You don’t get that many chances in life,” Ben said. He said he and Ron’s family and friends were thankful he did not suffer worse and he thanked “all the people who called and for their prayers.”
He added, “Care Flight did really well – they got him down to the hospital real quickly. One of the Care Flight nurses came in later to see how he was…she showed some real care for him.”
For the future, Ben said Ron had not said if he was going to return to work or not. “At first we didn’t think he’d ever work again. He’s thankful for his second chance,” Ben said.
Ben did say, however, that Ron is using this as a positive experience. “It’s just going to be one of those stories,” Ben said. “He’ll joke around with his glass eye and pop it out…”