Local News

Man Survives Impaling Accident

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The construction site where the accident happened. (WRAL-TV5 News)
APEX — Falling 30 feet from a roof is serious enough,but such an accident became far worse for an Apex man Sunday when helanded on an upright 2 x 4. The piece of wood went through hismid-section, astonishinglymissing vital arteries and organs. Although recovery may take some months,he is expected to survive.

Lee Hooks, 37, was installing insulation panels to the roof of a newelementary school at McGee's Crossroads when he slipped about 9:30 a.m.The upright board was directly under the roof edge. The woodwentthrough Hooks' right side, across his abdomen and came through hisleft side. The board had missed his aorta, spleen, liver and kidneys.

Doctors in Duke's Emergency Room cut a 2-foot incision across Hook'sabdomen to remove the dirty construction board. He had been given a heavydose of morphine to deal with the pain.

Several small arteries needed repair, and 12 feet of damaged smallintestine were removed. If infection does not set in, Hooks is expected tobe able to eat normally even with half his small intestine removed.

Co-worker Carlos Campos ran to a nearby house to call for help and thenran back to the site to dig an 18-inch hole around Hooks so the boardcould be removed from the earth and Hooks could lie on his back until morehelp arrived.

For transporting Hooks to the hospital, the rescue crew cut theprotruding board closer to his body, leaving about 6 inches on each side."So he could fit in the helicopter," Fire Chief Jim Parrish said.

Dr. John Brown said that Hooks was still alert and talking when hearrived at the Emergency Room. "He was just in an incredible amount ofpain," Brown toldThe News & Observer"but at the same time verycourageous. He was not hysterical."

An Emergency Room nurse said when she first saw Hooks she thought itwas a Halloween prank. Brown said Hooks' injury was one of the morebizarre he has seen in his 10 years as a trauma physician.

Hooks' only other injury appeared to be a dislocated elbow.

He might be discharged in about a week, depending on infection. Itcould take up to six months for him to be back to his usual self. Hooks issingle, has been a construction worker for about 20 years, and keeps inshape by lifting weights.

The board had been left over from a frame needed to pour a concretefloor at the as-yet unnamed school.

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