NEDERLAND, Texas — Doctors believe a Nederland man is lucky to be alive after a freak accident turned into a near death experience.
Michael Richard is being described as a walking miracle after a fall left him with a 24-inch piece of metal sticking through his neck and head.
The incident happened on Wednesday. Richard was painting the roof of a home when he lost his footing and fell.
"Next thing I know is I'm on the ground, and I try to stand up, and I can't stand up,” Richard said
Richard landed on a piece of rebar that was sticking out from the ground. The metal impaled him in the neck and went through his head.
"Stuff like this doesn't happen very often, and it usually doesn't have a good outcome,” Richard said.
Richard feels that if not for the quick actions of the first responders who arrived at the scene, he might not have made it.
Nederland firefighters and an Acadian ambulance crew tended to Richard on the scene. Emergency crews had to use a bolt cutter to cut the rebar that was still stuck in the ground.
Richard was then loaded onto a stretcher and taken to Christus St. Elizabeth Hospital in Beaumont, where he went straight into surgery.
"Within an hour, I was out of surgery and in recovery,” Richard said.
Paramedic Ashley Thomason treated Richard on the way to the hospital.
"We can train for this all day long,” Thomason said. “This is like almost 20 years for me, and I've never seen anything like this, and I probably never will again."
Thomason feels that in a situation like Richard's, every second matters.
"The biggest thing was keeping him calm, stabilizing his neck and just getting him to the closest trauma center, so they could take over from there, and that's what we did,” Thomason said.
Doctors said the incident could have been worse.
"It was just millimeters from hitting the voice box,” Richard said. “I mean your spinal cord, your carotid arteries, just there's so much stuff that could've gone wrong. It didn't even penetrate my skull."
Richard is thanking those involved for saving his life.
“From the doctors and nurses, to the EMT techs, to the Nederland fire and rescue, that's all I saw was nothing but professionalism and people being as cool as a cucumber,” Richard said. “Doing what they had to do to try and make a situation better and not make it worse.”
Richard feels lucky to be alive. His injury has given him a new perspective on life.
"Life's short, you know, you need to tell people that you love them all the time, that you love them every day," Richard said.
The Nederland man believes God had his hands on him and the first responders who saved his life.
"All the time God is good," Richard said.
Richard has been painting for more than 30 years prior to Wednesday's incident. He had just gone back to work after having a double hernia surgery and will now have to go back into recovery.
While he recovers, Richard will not be able to work. His family set up a GoFundMe for anyone who would like to help.
Nederland man feels lucky to be alive after fall leaves metal rod impaled through his neck, head
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