A Mansfield Woodhouse miner who was almost blasted to death by a broken hydraulic hose in a pit accident says he is slowly battling back to fitness.
Brave Richard Hodgkinson defied doctors after he was caught by the pump during a shift at Hatfield Colliery in Doncaster in June last year.
The 51-year-old was left with massive tissue damage as the pump came loose from overhead supports and fired hydraulic fluid into his body at a bullet-like pressure of 5,000 psi.
He spent two weeks in an induced coma, underwent nine operations and then spent five weeks in a critical care unit at Sheffield Northern General Hospital as his prognosis looked bleak.
He could have not only died from the fierce pressure of the hose, but also from the toxic fluid it fires out.
But the father-of-two, who lives on Fields Close, is now back at home and is recovering slowly from his life-changing ordeal.
Recalling the accident, he said: “There was a massive explosion as the hose burst and it just caught me on the side knocking me over and when I tried to get up to get out of the way I could not move my leg.
“I could not breathe and was struggling to take oxygen in - that was because the hydraulic fluid had got inside my body, had blasted its way round my back and had cracked every rib and punctured my lung.”
The accident happened at the coalface nearly a mile down and three miles out.
The emergency services were alerted immediately and a major rescue operation got underway. Richard was placed on a stretcher by his shocked colleagues and transported to the surface.
“As I was being taken out I noticed a lump appeared on the side of my body. By the time we got to the surface it was up to my armpit and the size of a football – it was apparently my lung. It was just so frightening,”
Despite surviving the ordeal, the road to recovery will be a long process.
The hydraulic fluid blasted away 90 per cent of the muscle from around Richard’s hip and the top of his leg, as well as contaminating muscle and nerves in his back.
The nerve and tissue damage has left him in considerable pain. He is being cared for at home by his wife Jayne and still needs intensive physiotherapy.
But an emotional Richard admits he is lucky to be alive, and puts his survival down to the speed of the air ambulance paramedics.
“Before you would see an air ambulance flying over and never think in a million years that you will need them and then bang!
“If I had to go by road ambulance to hospital I would not be here today – it’s that simple. They do such an amazing job.”
As a result, Richard’s family has already held a fund raising day that raised over £4,000 for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance, who like the Lincolnshire & Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance, is an independent charity which relies on donations and needs nearly £10,000 a day to keep its helicopters flying.
His colleagues at Hatfield Colliery have also rallied round and have been generously fundraising for the ambulance service since his accident, donating money every month from their salaries through a Payroll Giving scheme.
Meanwhile, friends held a fundraising event at Park Hall Tavern in Mansfield Woodhouse, where they were able to pull in more than £2,822. There was live music, a bungee jump and a raffle with prizes by several local firms including Wigman’s hair salon, Shangri La takeaway and pubs including The Fairways, The Coopers and the Dog & Duck at Clipstone.