To make sure you never miss out on your favourite NEW stories, we're happy to send you some reminders

Click 'OK' then 'Allow' to enable notifications

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's friends had to hold his head together after the accident

10,000lbs. That's more than twice the weight of the average car, and about 1,000lbs more than the average female Asian elephant. It's also the approximate weight of the granite slab that crushed Mike Wolo's head 20 years ago.

Mike, who is now 51 years old, didn't work in the granite yard where the accident took place; he was actually a kitchen and home designer, and had just been asked to help out as a favor.

He'd helped to move the huge slabs of stone from shipping containers four or five times before, so Mike knew it was dangerous work and originally said no. But the workers just needed one last favor - and Mike decided to oblige.

Mike, from Massachusetts, noticed a few red flags from the second the job began, noting that beams of this particular shipping container were 'rotting', causing the floor to become unstable, and the truck the container was placed on was parked on an incline.

These factors meant Mike was working in a space he likened to a 'trampoline on a seesaw' - not an ideal environment to move multiple slabs of stone, each of which weighed 9,600lbs (4,354kg).

Mike and the other guys he was working with had just two slabs to go when the disaster took place. With a crane lift on hand to do the real heavy lifting, it was Mike's job to slide straps under one end of the granite so it could be lifted out of the container.

"I was on my hands and knees just waiting to set the straps in place. And all of a sudden I heard my friend screaming," he recalled.

"I'm like, 'oh, what's what's he yelling about now?'... And the other gentleman who's helping me runs over, grabs me by the shoulder and lifts me to run. That's when I finally noticed that this wall is moving."

Mike was only 32 when his head was crushed.
Mike Wolo

Mike was at the furthest end of the container away from the door. He had about 11 feet to run. He barely made it five.

"I looked up and kind of tried to put my shoulder into it to stop 9600lbs from dropping on me," he said.

Unsurprisingly, his shoulder was no match for the slab of granite.

"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'."

The stone pinned Mike 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 blacked out immediately, but his friends at the granite yard witnessed it all.

"They said I was the most disgusting thing they've ever seen because 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'. He didn't regain consciousness until he was in the hospital, but he remembers one thing from the interim - something he likens to a 'dream'.

Mike blacked out after being hit by the granite.
Mike Wolo

He explained: "A few months before my accident I learned that a former colleague of mine, a great friend as well, had passed away. 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 okay. You're gonna be okay'. And then I wake up."

Mike had been in a coma for about seven hours, and he woke with no recollection of the accident. Everything hurt and his entire body was swollen.

He'd been saved by his workmates, who 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 to restore his face, but Mike admitted he thought his life was 'over' the first time he looked in the mirror.

Mike's head was reconstructed with surgery.
Mike Wolo

"It was right after the surgery, so my head was still gigantic but misshapen," he recalled. "The top my head was kind of pointed and lopsided, my lips were like [really] wide because they did a lot of surgery by cutting along the inside of my mouth and pulling back the lips... I had scars everywhere and my cheeks, everything's puffed out... You're just looking at a hideous mess and figuring life's kind of over."

Mike had hopes of getting married and having kids, but his 'first thought' upon looking at himself was that children would 'run away' from him.

He didn't have hope for finding a relationship, either, thinking: "I doubt anyone would fall in love with somebody who looks like this."

Mike's face was reconstructed with the help of 110 screws and 20 titanium plates, and 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, he was doing so well that he was released to rehab.

After just over a week there he was able to get his balance back, and after another week staff told him there was 'no reason' to keep him in any longer.

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

Mike is now married with kids.
Mike Wolo

Proving the doctors wrong wasn't a first for Mike, who'd had to fight to prove himself numerous times throughout his younger years.

Standing at '5'7" on a really good day', Mike trained to be strong and fast so he could hold his own, and as a result proved himself to be a talented football player.

He'd always been conscious of his height, but after the accident he learned it was that which saved his life.

"Because of the point of impact where the stone hit, if I was any taller, I would have been decapitated. If I was any shorter, it would have smashed my brains," he said.

This realisation gave Mike a sense of acceptance which has changed his life for the better. Twenty years on, it's clear his life definitely wasn't over when the granite struck him.

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.

He holds no ill will against those who asked him for the favor that day, and he now works as a telecommunications senior construction manager.

Mike also 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.

Mike's even returned to the football field to fulfil his dreams of playing again - but that's not the best part.

Since being released from rehab, he has fallen in love, got married and welcomed two children - neither of who run away from him.

"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: US News, Life, Health