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Man whose head was crushed by 10,000lbs of stone saw dead friend while he ‘died’ for five minutes

Man whose head was crushed by 10,000lbs of stone saw dead friend while he ‘died’ for five minutes

Mike Wolo had no time to escape the huge slab of granite that collapsed onto his head

Have you ever had a good deed come back to bite you?

Mike Wolo, from Massachusetts, agreed to help move the huge slabs of stone from shipping containers at a granite yard as a favor, and as a result he ended up having his head crushed by 10,000lbs of granite.

Mike had helped out at the yard before, but he recalled a few concerns when he arrived that day, noting that beams of this particular shipping container were 'rotting', causing the floor to become unstable.

With the container placed on an incline, Mike likened the scene to a 'trampoline on a seesaw' - not an ideal environment to move multiple slabs of stone, each of which weighed 9,600lbs (4,354kg).

The team helping to move the slabs were nearly finished when the accident took place, while Mike was on his hands and knees sliding straps under one end of the granite so it could be lifted out of the container.

"And all of a sudden I heard my friend screaming," he recalled in an interview with UNILAD.

One of the other workers tried to encourage Mike to run, but he wasn't able to make it the 11 feet to the opening before the huge slab of granite fell on to his head.

Mike is now married with kids. (Mike Wolo)
Mike is now married with kids. (Mike Wolo)

"If I'd thought to lay on the ground, I probably would have been safe," he explained. "But human reaction is 'don't lay down'."

As Mike was still standing, the stone ended up pinning him against the opposite wall by his temple, crushing his face to the width of 'two and seven eighths of an inch'.

"The positioning of my head, just tilting it down, is what saved my brain being squashed to scrambled eggs," he said.

Mike quickly blacked out, but his friends later described the scene as 'the most disgusting thing they've ever seen'.

"Everything [from my temple] down, had ripped off," Mike said. "It was all sideways. My eye was actually down below my chin, my jaw ripped off and broke in three... They said the top of my head look like a huge mushroom ready to explode out from the top of the granite."

Later, Mike would learn that he was 'dead for about five minutes'.

Thankfully he did later regain consciousness, but not before he had a 'dream'-like experience in which he saw a friend who'd passed away a few months earlier.

Mike blacked out after being hit by the granite. (Supplied)
Mike blacked out after being hit by the granite. (Supplied)

Mike explained: "He was driving with his windows open and a bee came into his work van and stung him. He didn't have his epipen with him and he died.

"So I don't remember anything from the point of impact. [Then] all of a sudden, there's my friend in front of me. And he's talking to me saying, 'Hey, you're not supposed to be here. You're gonna be fine. If you get chance, check in and see if my family is OK. You're gonna be OK'. And then I wake up."

Mike had no recollection of the accident when he woke up; all he knew was that everything hurt.

After being crushed, Mike's workmates had managed to use the crane to get the stone off him before taking it in turns to hold his head together. He was flown in a helicopter to a hospital in Boston, where medics immediately worked to stop the bleeding.

After a week he was able to undergo plastic surgery, the first of three procedures to restore his face, but Mike admitted he thought his life was 'over' the first time he looked in the mirror due to the damage that had been done.

Over time, Mike's face was reconstructed with the help of 110 screws and 20 titanium plates.

Mike's head was reconstructed with surgery. (Mike Wolo)
Mike's head was reconstructed with surgery. (Mike Wolo)

Doctors thought he would be in hospital for at least six months, after which he'd probably need another six months in rehab, but by the end of his second week in hospital Mike was doing so well that he was released to rehab.

From having his head crushed to just a few inches, Mike was back home in 32 days.

Mike experienced a lot of mental health issues after the accident, and had to work to overcome agoraphobia and anxiety. Some parts of his face still 'don't work', and he had to retrain himself how to walk and smile - but it's been worth it, and he's done it all with a new appreciation of life.

Mike spent a few years trying to track down the family of his late friend, but by the time he found them online he felt he'd struggle to explain why he was reaching out. He was also reassured by the fact that the family seemed to be happy and doing well.

Since being released from rehab, Mike also fell in love, got married and welcomed two children.

"Looking at myself in the mirror for the first time after the accident - what I would have given to have my old face back. But you know what? I had an amazing doctor and life's good," Mike said, before joking: "I look normal - or at least close to normal."

Featured Image Credit: Mike Wolo

Topics: Mental Health, US News, Life, Health