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"Miracle man" gets drilled and survives

September 5, 2003
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Ron Hunt's friends call him the "miracle man."

And why not? The Truckee, Calif., construction worker had an 18-inch drill bit penetrate through his right eye into his skull, and lived to talk about it.

Maybe you've seen X-rays of Hunt's skull with the rod running through it on the Internet.

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

Hunt was standing on a ladder drilling into a surface overhead on August 15, when his ladder suddenly gave way. He dropped the drill and then fell to the floor, landing face first onto the bit. It all happened so fast Hunt didn't see the bit coming.

The rod plunged into his eye socket and poked 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.

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 was loose. And so we just put down our blade and twisted the bit," said Dr. Paul Ludlow, the surgeon who performed the operation.

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.

Hunt will be fitted with a glass eye, but is otherwise expected to recover fully. He even says he's ready to get back to work.

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