Man Survives 18-Inch Drill Bit in Head

ByABC News via logo
September 2, 2003, 8:12 AM

Sept. 2 -- Ron Hunt's friends call him the "miracle man."

The Truckee, Calif., resident survived a freak accident in which an 18-inch drill bit penetrated through his right eye into his skull, but left him with no serious damage to his brain.

"It is a miracle, it seems like for sure," he told ABCNEWS' Good Morning America today in an exclusive network interview.

Hunt was standing on a ladder drilling into a surface overhead on August 15, when the ladder suddenly gave way. He dropped the drill and then fell to the floor, landing face first onto the bit. The whole sequence happened so quickly Hunt did not even see the bit coming.

"By the time I was falling, and I let the drill go down, I was already on top of it," he said.

The rod went into his eye socket and out the back of his head, behind his right ear.

"I ran my hands up the drill bit, up to my eye, and put my other hand in the back of my head and felt it coming through the back of my head," Hunt remembered. "And that's where pretty much the shock set in."

Hunt's co-workers rushed him to the hospital. He was bleeding heavily and extremely frightened.

"I couldn't believe what my eyes were seeing," said his co-worker, Forrest Keating.

How Do You Remove a Drill Bit? Unscrew It

After weighing their options, doctors essentially unscrewed the bit to remove it.

"We would have cut it off, but after a few minutes of drilling, we noticed that it wasloose. And so we just put down our blade and twisted the bit," said Dr. Paul Ludlow, the surgeon who performed the operation.

Despite the ghoulish accident, Hunt still joked with doctors and his amazed co-workers. Hunt said that after receiving a shot of morphine to kill the pain, he joked that it was "a Kodak moment" and suggested someone get a photo of his injury.

Ludlow said Hunt came very close to death.

The bit essentially pushed his brain aside, rather than impaling it.

"I think he turned his head just enough. Had it gone towards the apex [of the eye socket], I don't think he would have been alive," Ludlow said.