Frank Arce of Longview, Washington, has a broken pelvis, broken leg, seven broken ribs, a shattered ankle, a bruised liver, a collapsed lung, and assorted other injuries—but he went into a wood chipper-like machine last week and lived to tell the tale. The wood products worker's 10 seconds of hell began when a log got stuck inside the chamber that fed the machine, called a hopper, on the evening of Jan. 23 at Swanson Bark & Wood Products. Workers shut down the machine before he climbed into the hopper remove the jam. What happened next is somewhat unclear, and under investigation. The 23-year-old tells the Daily News that "apparently the piece (of machinery) I was standing next to was on a different circuit," and somehow started back up again, sucking him from the hopper into the "porcupine."
In KATU-TV's telling, a coworker who was unaware he was inside started the machine up. Reuters also says a coworker was at fault, but notes that Arce had fallen through the hopper's hole before it was turned on. What is clear is that the machine was shut off when workers heard Arce's screams—but the lower half of his body had already been shredded by the porcupine, which uses curved metal tines measuring roughly half a foot to break up bark. "There's no way I should be here right now," he tells Reuters, crediting his survival to "guardian angels." (A wide tattoo on his chest appropriately reads "Send me an angel.") He suffered permanent nerve damage and it's not clear whether he will be able to walk normally again. "He might not be at 100% but he's alive and that's all that we care about," his mother says. (Click for another tale of survival, this one involving butterflies.)