On May 25, 2016, I was sitting on and repairing an industrial conveyor belt. Suddenly, the conveyor belt started up and I went on a ride that changed my life forever.

I spent 16 days in the hospital where doctor's focused on placing a rod and screws into my left arm (which the rod and screws eventually became infected with MRSA and had to be removed out of the arm) and to apply skin grafts to areas where I had 3rd degree burns from the friction of the belt.

To date, I have had 12 surgeries with more in the future mostly to repair my left arm and 3rd degree burns from the friction of the belts.

The list of injuries include:

*Broken humerus *5 shattered ribs *3rd degree burns on right shoulder & left elbow *3 broken vertebrae *Collapsed lung *Nerve damage in left arm resulting in 4 month paralysis *PTSD *Torn rotator cuff *Torn bicep tendon *Prominent arthritis in left shoulder

Here are some photos of the conveyor belt:

The one I was sitting on when it was turned on: https://i.imgur.com/4aGV5Y2.jpg

I fell down below to this one where I got caught in between the two before I eventually broke my arm, was freed, and ended up being sucked up under that bar where the ribs and back broke before I eventually passed out and lost consciousness from not being able to breathe: https://i.imgur.com/SCGlLIe.jpg

REMEMBER: SAFETY FIRST and LOTO....it saves your life.

Edit 1: Injury pics of the burns. NSFW or if you don't like slightly upsetting images.

My arm before the accident: https://i.imgur.com/oE3ua4G.jpg Right after: https://i.imgur.com/tioGSOb.jpg After a couple weeks: https://i.imgur.com/Nanz2Nv.jpg Post skin graft: https://i.imgur.com/MpWkymY.jpg

EDIT 2: That's all I got for tonight! I'll get to some more tomorrow! I deeply appreciate everyone reading this. I honestly hope you realize that no matter how much easier a "short cut" may be, nothing beats safety. Lock out, tag out (try out), Personal Protection Equipment, communication, etc.

Short cuts kill. Don't take them. Remember this story the next time you want to avoid safety in favor of production.

Comments: 2947 • Responses: 66  • Date: 

cinemakitty5467 karma

Hi. I just wanted to say I was crushed and nearly killed under a large delivery truck at work. I know the stress of chronic pain and ptsd and the weird world of worker’s Comp and am 33. Feel free to pm me if you need some solidarity. What led you to do an AMA?

DC4MVP3179 karma

I will probably take you up on that. Not a lot of people go through this stuff and fully understand.

And I feel it's good to talk about it and hopefully people learn from my screw ups....

cinemakitty1573 karma

Seriously I never meet anyone with such similar circumstances. Message me so we can bitch about it and support each other haha.

DC4MVP1151 karma

Dude for sure!

Flintlocke893426 karma

Holy shit, am currently training as an engineering technician and there's a possibility I may end up doing repair/maintenance work like this. We have a teacher who has tons of stories like this.

Question one: Any idea how the belt sprang to life? Wasn't there a LOTO?

Question two: Are you a lefty or a righty? How do you imagine yourself adapting to life without the arm?

DC4MVP2647 karma

  1. A temp employee with the company started it up without checking to see if I was on it. One of the big problems is that LOTO took WAYYYYY too much time. Usually, the guy starting the belt (who was gone that day) didn't take eyes off me as I was on it. Well, nobody trained the new guy.

So we failed with LOTO and training

  1. Luckily I'm a righty. The arm is probably going to max out at about 70% normal. My elbow can only bend 115-120 degrees and even that required a surgery to improve it from 90 degrees to the 115-120. I can BARELY touch my face now.

As for the pain....it is what it is! I'm "only" 29 right now and my surgeon is already saying I'll have a full shoulder replacement. We're hoping I'll make it to my 40's before that happens. Obviously WAYYYYYY to young still!

cnote3062178 karma

LOTO took WAYYYYY too much time

Ah, yes. The old 12 surgeries later shortcut.

DC4MVP1123 karma

Yep. Short cuts kill. Never take the easy way.

naeskivvies191 karma

I guess what immediately comes to mind, not having been there, are more questions about how it happened.

Past LOTO,

When this machine started up, wasn't there an emergency stop? Did the temp just not hear you?

How long did the accident last? Was it just a few seconds?

Isn't there a breaker you can pull before working on these things?

Why isn't there a safety mechanism along the track to shut it off or a grille to stop very large objects falling in?

And finally: How many colors of the rainbow were you simultaneously, and how did you go on to also survive daytime TV during your recovery?

DC4MVP417 karma

  1. No emergency stop at the time (There are now) and was about 75 feet from the temp. Combine that with the amount of noise in the building, nobody heard me.

  2. I still don't know to be honest! I'd say 30 seconds? Nobody saw it happen and there's no cameras. It felt like forever, though!

  3. Yeah there's a full shut down panel. Just took too much time to do it (Short cuts kill.....)

  4. There actually is a screener that prevents anything larger than 2" from falling down into the belts buuuuuuut I was on the belt where the small stuff (dirt and gravel) lands on.

  5. Too many to count and DVR and Netflix saved my ass! I watched A LOT of My 600-lb life and A LOT of Scrubs!

Between my time is the hospitals and Scrubs, I'm pretty sure I could ace the MCATS. Call me Dr. Acula....drop the period and smush it all together!

minor_details57 karma

tangential question: what's your favorite episode of scrubs? i ask bc that show saved my husband's sanity while he was recovering from surgery for two broken heels and a shattered spine, and also bc it's one of my favorites.

DC4MVP143 karma

Jesus....

I like the one where Turk and J.D. scrap their steak night and spend the night with the guy dying. It makes me cry every time.

I also like the finale (season 9 doesn't exist to me), when Cox' brother-in-law dies and when Tracy's organs gives the recipients rabies and Cox loses it.

xoSwEeTiEbabe92xo2034 karma

How is your PTSD? I feel like getting over the trauma would be one of the hardest parts.

DC4MVP4664 karma

You know, I was too afraid to admit that's what I was going through. I felt it was something that soldiers get seeing their buddies die or getting shot or blown up. I didn't see any of the stuff they do so, in a way, I felt like I was unworthy of it. If that makes any sense?

I'd shut the TV off to go to bed at, say, 11:00pm. Then I'd replay the accident over and over and over in my mind until I'd look at the clock and it's say 2:30am. Just non-stop until I passed out.

And apparently I was screaming in my sleep and kept saying "PAUL! PAUL!" in my sleep as he would be the guy closest to where I was stuck in the conveyor.

I eventually went to a psychologist and with the help of EMDR, I was able to over-come MOST of my troubles. There's times I'll still think about it for a minute or two and I've cried a few times thinking about it but 1-2 times a week is better than dwelling on it day after day.

rakki99991121320 karma

Damn, that's hard to hear. My father witnessed a man crushed to death by a truck and held his hand as he died. He sometimes exhibits those same symptoms. I can't imagine the strength you must have.

DC4MVP656 karma

My god that's horrible to imagine....

Paroxysm80847 karma

Retired military here with PTSD. I'm not judging you in the least, and that nagging feeling you're getting is due to ignorance on your part and others. PTSD can result from nearly any life threatening traumatic situation. Rape survivors, combat veterans, car accident victims, and yes... industrial workers get PTSD.

You're not weak (or weaker than Soldiers). You're fighting that battle we all hope no one else experiences. Keep your chin up; your perseverance shows strength :)

Edit: Changed to "traumatic" as its more correct.

DC4MVP416 karma

It's something I FINALLY realized and admitted I need help.

It's a serious thing and I've told A LOT of people that even though military is the easy example for the news or commercials to target, it can happen to anyone.

mrmichaelsquid1038 karma

Glad you survived and hope you are well! Have you found a new profession or had an awakening in your life after being so close to death?

DC4MVP1499 karma

I actually went back to doing what I was doing this past December. (I'm a heavy equipment operator....so I operate life size Tonka trucks) I made it about a week or so full-time before my shoulder gave out on my and I tore my rotator cuff even more.

My surgeon told me I'll never go back to physical work after that mainly due to the arthritis being so bad at age 29. So we'll see what happens in a couple months when I heal up from this latest surgery.

Either the company can put me in an office type gig or I was tinking about going back to school for Construction Project Management.

swazy1226 karma

or I was tinking about going back to school for Construction Project Management.

You will need to get something to hold the clip board up so you can angerly look at the job site and write stuff down.

Because thats all I do

DC4MVP718 karma

I joke around with buddies and say "I'll be the guy the equipment operators call an idiot and say I don't know what I'm doing!"

Believe me....I've said it myself 300-400 times in my 10 year career!

thenebular434 karma

I hope you have a couple of gnarly scars that you could show off when someone says you don't know what you're doing.

"Damn right I didn't, and this is what I got!"

DC4MVP416 karma

My whole right arm is basically a scar lol. I had a large tattoo on my upper right shoulder and that got burnt up pretty bad and the skin graft went over the tattoo so it's pretty funky looking!

ashwinr136197 karma

Battle scars.

DC4MVP298 karma

Chicks dig em?

DPestWork386 karma

Yup! My accident scraped off skin so that it looks like I had a tat removed. If I'm at a bar, being silly, I say it was a biker gang tattoo, had to get it burnt off to get out of that life, to protect me wife who was then killed in a later episode, I mean a month ago.

DC4MVP184 karma

Yep!

I lost about 3/4 of my large shoulder piece!

One of my favorite SOA episodes is when they burn the reaper off that dude

canadave_nyc186 karma

I almost wonder whether you might be a great candidate for doing industrial safety training. You would be Exhibit A not just physically but would be able to share your experience as a cautionary tale. Is that something you've considered?

DC4MVP301 karma

Once I get out of this sling, I was invited to speak at my alma matter to the incoming heavy equipment program students.

It'll be a great honor and hopefully they'll learn that it can happen to them to.

uuntiedshoelace25 karma

When I was in tank mechanic school, one of my advisors told me about a time she was caught between a hull and turret and almost crushed... It was stopped almost immediately after she was knocked down there and she still ended up with broken ribs. Knowing somebody who has actually experienced how dangerous the equipment is really did make me more cautious, you’re probably going to end up saving somebody by doing this!

DC4MVP24 karma

I pray every day that my story saves someone even a paper cut.

TuckersMyDog1 karma

How about "construction management"

DC4MVP1 karma

That's what I'm current looking into! Still in the industry I love!

EnglishTeachers920 karma

Did the company admit liability? How did the belt get turned on?

DC4MVP1438 karma

A temp employee who wasn't trained turned it on. So we didn't use any LOTO.

I honestly don't know how the liability thing works but there were a lot of failures from the company, my boss, and myself. Pretty much boils down to improper training of employees, no LOTO (lock out, tag out) and I've been working around conveyors my entire career in heavy equipment....I knew better.

I don't blame anyone. Just a bad series of mistakes from a lot of people.

Fuguzilla808 karma

You need to talk to a lawyer.

DC4MVP664 karma

I have one on retainer.

Lonely_Beer1248 karma

Okay well you need a better one who will start by telling you don't post on reddit before the settlement check cashes

DC4MVP690 karma

There's no settlement due to work comp protecting the company from lawsuits in exchange for me accepting work comp.

OverTheRanbow52 karma

Please delete this post now. No liability should be on you.

DC4MVP28 karma

Thanks but I'm allowed to speak about it since OSHA finished up whatever they had to do.

aeriaglorisss-1 karma

My goodness dude. I don't even want to imagine what you've went through. Alot of people would pull the plug in your shoes.

DC4MVP1 karma

Nah. I'm not the toughest guy in the world!

fiend36486 karma

So what is OSHA's take on all of this? Who/what was found at fault?

DC4MVP737 karma

The company was fined and safety measures were changed. The guy who started the belt either quit or was fired that day.

aerovistae304 karma

How do you feel towards that guy? Were you angry at him? Even if it's not strictly only his fault, did you instinctively blame him?

DC4MVP775 karma

I honestly never met him or saw him. He was only with the company 3 days and was in a completely different area than me.

I don't blame him at all. He didn't do it on purpose. He wasn't trained properly and I didn't do my job of LOTO.

zeitistback375 karma

How fast does the belt move?

How much wide is it? How much clearance in second picture from belt to the top of the pic?

DC4MVP440 karma

I'm not 100% sure but I think it's 27mph. Enough to give me 3rd degree burns from the friction on my skin!

It's about 3.5 feet wide and it was about a 2 foot fall from where I was sitting down to the belt below.

mart1373340 karma

What amount of worker’s compensation did you receive? I’m always curious about what insurance pays out in cases like these.

DC4MVP616 karma

Worker's comp pays for all my medical bills including travel.

I also get a weekly check which is 67% of my average paychecks before I got hurt. On the bright side, I was only with the company a month before the injury so I was a bit slower doing my job and racked up a lot of hours a week (60-65) .

DPestWork99 karma

Pro Tip: Get info on time limits. Specifically if you are on Short Term Disability, and they try to move you on to Long Term Disability. My company tried that, offering a higher biweekly payout, so that they wouldn't have to pay me a portion of the quarterly and yearly bonuses, making it actually LESS money.

DC4MVP135 karma

Worker's Comp differs from regular health insurance. Worker's comp will last until every doctor clears me and I'm able to work a full 40-hour week whenever that may be.

Nightlightscareme35 karma

For how long will you be getting workers comp? Just until all the surgeries are done?

DC4MVP16 karma

Until I'm able to work 40 hours again.

The injuries related to the accident will always be covered by comp.

thenebular319 karma

Was this in a box factory? Were you nearly turned into a box? To ship nails?

DC4MVP255 karma

One of the best Simpsons episodes ever.

Skullify248 karma

What exactly is LOTO for Normie's who don't play on conveyer belts regularly?

DC4MVP279 karma

Lock Out, Tag Out.

Whoever is on a piece of machinery is supposed to put a lock on the shut off switch and only they have the key to unlock it.

parkerSquare232 karma

How did you survive? I mean, you said elsewhere that nobody saw it happen, or could hear you or see you, so what happened after you lost consciousness? How were you found and who found you?

DC4MVP532 karma

The belt apparently shut off from me being stuck in it and guy who basically over-sees the belt system noticed it not going so he walked over there and saw I was in it.

Apparently he jumped down about 12 feet and nearly broke his ankle to get to my boss who then cut me out.

Laelawright228 karma

Don't you always, as a matter of training and practice, unplug the machine before you start working on it?

DC4MVP350 karma

We didn't do that or LOTO because we thought it wasted too much time. So we used spotters. The guy starting the machine that day was with the company 3 days.

Well, short cuts kill....

filters_shit_subs161 karma

you still able to throw that dick around?

DC4MVP173 karma

Like a champ!

desireesun142 karma

Q1: When you went through the belt, did you immediately feel the pain, or did shock numb you?

DC4MVP257 karma

Not one thing of pain. I felt/heard my arm break then a few seconds later hear my back and ribs break....sounded like bubble wrap being stepped on.

DoYouEvenThroCodeBro95 karma

And it didn't hurt at all??

DC4MVP189 karma

Not at all.

I don't even remember being in pain the first few days in the hospital due to the morphine and what not.

KangasaurusRex66 karma

Phew, lucky. For some reason when I got my surgeries, they said they could not start me on pain killers until I was awake and they placed the nerve blocks incorrectly so I felt everything!

When I woke, the pain was so severe and filled my brain so completely that I could not remember who i was, where i was, what was currently happening. It took 90 minutes and 9 morphine button presses to finally be comfortable enough to stop staring at the clock for more.

DC4MVP37 karma

That sounds like an utterly horrible feeling.

I honestly have chills from reading that, friend.

Bigmclargehuge89139 karma

So...did you fix the conveyor belt?

DC4MVP108 karma

I got about 50% done. Wire was caught up into it. Didn't cut through all of it in time.

Rockguytilidie120 karma

If people could please stop telling this man to delete the post and go sue... I am 205728203629% SURE he knows the situation better than you guys. I understand you're trying to help, but this is an AMA, not a "Tell me what to do". Besides, reading his responses, it seems he is allowed to speak about it, and is no way jeopardizing his finances since it is finished up!

That having been said, I am a very anxious person. I am ALWAYS thinking about what terrible bodily harm could befall me next. Being a geology student, it's usually something along the lines of "What if I tripped off that ledge?" Or "Man, that Cliff looks really sketchy, what if that whole thing just fell on me?" I was just wondering if before your accident if you ever had those type of nervous/anxious thoughts, and how you've combatted them since you're accident? (Because I could only see those thoughts getting MUCH worse for me) I wish you all the best health and wishes I can :)

DC4MVP73 karma

I made sure I'm covered before doing this as I want to speak about it to other's in the industry.

Loadboy98 karma

Did it hurted?

DC4MVP181 karma

It was owies...

SadiaDaBomb39 karma

I apologize if this is too invasive, but what did it feel like? :(

DC4MVP61 karma

Nothing really as it happened. Adrenaline was pumping pretty well at that point.

After was a whole different story.

WayneJetSkii94 karma

Damn :(.

How was it having to learn to jerk off with your other hand ?

DC4MVP141 karma

I was actually a lefty jerker....

Doing it with my right was a whole different experience!

narcissistic_walrus88 karma

I work around industrial machinery all the time. It is so easy for these types of things to happen. Even taking so many precautions it is still dangerous.

Did you think you were gonna die before you passed out? What were your final thoughts?

DC4MVP336 karma

It still haunts me to this day....

Once I knew I couldn't breath anymore I said to myself "Huh....so this is how I die?" and I remember thinking about the phone call my parents were going to get that their son died at work.

Brings tears to my eyes just typing it! Haha.

ADmavericK74 karma

Hi, I'm sorry to hear you go through what must have been a terrifying situation. I'm glad that you have recovered and are able to do an AMA on reddit. Thank you for doing this.

I'm wondering how they treated you when you got infected with MRSA? That in and of itself is scary enough. How did you handle that?

DC4MVP137 karma

I had the rod and screws that harbored the infection removed and essentially spent two days in the hospital with antibiotics hooked up to me via I.V.

I had a fun two days in the hospital. It was a blast! I used to sneak out of my room like I was a spy and go all the way down to the lobby and pick up whatever food I ordered then sneak back up and try not to get caught. (I did a lot).

I always bought enough for the nurses, though!

I can't eat hospital food to this day

a-common-username54 karma

Would you say your life is getting back on track, or did you go completely off the rails?

DC4MVP59 karma

Besides not being able to work after this latest surgery on Jan 24, things are pretty much normal now.

carrotisfat52 karma

Why did you decide to do an AMA? It must be hard to talk to strangers about your trauma.

DC4MVP123 karma

Mainly to get my feelings out there and to talk about it. I feel it helps the process.

Also, I do hope somebody reads this and learns from my mistakes.

alphaverse15944 karma

What do you think you'll be doing after you're discharged from the hospital?

DC4MVP75 karma

The accident happened "way back" on May 25, 2016. The initial days at home were pretty painful and...well...boring. I was pretty much confined to a recliner in the living room all day. Getting up only to wash up and shower (with assistance of course).

A lot of rehab followed mainly on my arms and weekly visits to the burn center to get my burns healed up.

SpectreBlasT31 karma

So when you're not being a trooper, what do you do for fun?

DC4MVP78 karma

Yell at kids having fun while I'm stuck in the house.

luvlou1828 karma

As someone born with one arm I gotta say: welcome to the club 😊 You've been put through hell and you survived. Don't you feel like a badass?!?

DC4MVP25 karma

haha not at all.

n0vag0d23 karma

How were you not able to escape? Was the belt moving very quickly? Were you stuck to anything? Did you attempt to run/crawl on the moving belt like a treadmill but simply were too slow? Sorry, I'm just trying to imagine how you could be injured this way. Please don't take this the wrong way.

DC4MVP40 karma

It was moving at 27mph and I was caught in limbo between the two belts before finally getting sucked under a tension bar.

I fought to get out as best I could!

juicetothrowawayfar16 karma

Sorry to ask this. But how do you adapt to your old dreams that might no longer be possible?

Sometimes long term goals and dreams that have been with us for a long time define us, how has the feeling been?

Sometimes I feel in prison just because i dont have enough money to move to another city for my goal. Do you feel your brain got rewired andnow you are truely just thankful to be alive?

DC4MVP61 karma

I was VERY lucky that i got to operate the equipment I did. I've popped the cherry on a handful of loaders and dozers worth over a million dollars.

Tons of young kids dream about that in the sandbox playing with their Tonka toys. I'll always be in the industry just maybe not playing the the iron.

As for goals, my #1 goal is to get as close to 100% as I'll get.

As for you, I moved from Minnesota to Texas to pursue a mining job. When the move was done, I had $43 to my name. It was the best decision I made in my life. Your goal isn't out of reach. Never stop reaching for it. Ever.

acedelaf3 karma

Who do you blame?

DC4MVP16 karma

Blame....nobody.

There were mistakes made on multiple ends. I screwed up as I knew better. The company knew better. My boss knew better.

Lot of dumb mistakes went into it.

bubz991 karma

Getting crushed sounds bad. Was it bad?

DC4MVP1 karma

Slightly!

Blaze_Fire991 karma

How did you make it out of the machine? Was it more of a track than a loop so it eventually just spit you out at the end of the line?

DC4MVP2 karma

It was a loop but I got caught under what they call a tension bar (you can see it in the 2nd pic).

My boss and friend (who got me hired) cut the belt and yanked me out.

pwniess1 karma

Chicks dig scars. Has your arm gotten you laid yet?

DC4MVP1 karma

We'll just say the story is one way to keep a lady's attention...

maddoxnelson1 karma

Do you work on the Iron Range?

DC4MVP0 karma

Nope. Applied for a job at Hibbing Taconite out of college. Didn't get hired. Pricks.

I did go into mining, however. Frac sand. Spent 6 years doing that.

Zombreck-1 karma

That is crazy man. So I am starting work in a pain clinic soon. I'm interested to know:

With the whole "Opioid Crisis" (and yes, those are sarcastic quotes) going on, what type of pain management procedures and prescriptions were you set up with?

For how long were you using the prescriptions?

If you have stopped using the prescriptions, how did you go about that? If you are still using the prescriptions, do you plan to stop?

Thanks man. I hope things are at least stable for you.

DC4MVP4 karma

I was on Percoset for about 1.5 years. I needed them for a long time. Every time the pain would do away, there was another surgery to be done or post PT or whatever.

Then one day, I realized I was grabbing them and nothing hurt at the time. That scared the shit out of me. I flushed them down the toilet that minute and went through 5 days of being a complete asshole and flipping out about the smallest things.

Day 6 hit and I honestly felt like a new man. Waking up ready to go instead of groggy. Not tired into the middle of the days, etc. It was a night and day difference.

I have had Percoset since the main time I quit but it's only for a day or 2 after a surgery then they get flushed and I take Tylenol. For bad bad bad days, I have something that's less than Percoset but a bit stronger than ibuprofen. Still an opioid but lot less chance at addiction.

I'm extremely careful now. They grab you and don't let go until it's too late.