Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Mechanic crushed by truck axle rescued by angels
By Mark Ellis
Senior Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
WISCONSIN RAPIDS, WISCONSIN (ANS) -- He was underneath a Peterbilt logging truck’s engine when the jack gave way, and 10,000 pounds crushed his body to within an inch of the cement floor. In his near-fatal experience he watched two angels tend to his body as he miraculously came back from the edge of death.
“I traveled around Wisconsin doing on-site repairs on diesel engines,” says Bruce Van Natta, 42. On a mild fall day, he had fixed the coolant leak on the mammoth logging truck, put his tools away and was ready to leave, when the truck’s driver asked him to look at one more thing.
“There’s an oil seep in the front of the engine somewhere,” the man said. Bruce got on the creeper on the floor and slid under the huge chrome bumper, feet first. The truck was still running.
“Why don’t you jump inside and shut it off,” Bruce called out. With the front wheel removed and the truck jacked up, there was barely enough room for Bruce to slip under the axle that ran from wheel to wheel.
Bruce noticed the driver hadn’t positioned any safety equipment to support the jack – no blocking or jack stands. But Bruce had done the same thing many times himself to save time, so he wasn’t concerned.
But as the other man hopped up in the truck’s cab to shut off the engine, he watched the huge truck shift and rock slightly. “Out of the peripheral vision in my left eye I saw movement,” Bruce says. “I turned my head just in time to see the jack wiggle around and shoot out like a rocket.”
The leading edge under the massive engine – the truck’s axle – came down on Jack’s body like a blunt guillotine, with a crushing blow across his stomach nearly cutting him in half. It created the loudest noise Bruce had ever heard.
“Lord help me!” Bruce cried out twice. The force of the trauma on his stomach caused blood to shoot into his throat suddenly; he coughed and spit out a large blob. He bled internally from major arteries severed in five places.
Bruce looked at the left side of his body and saw he was only one inch thick. “I was thinner than the thickness of my spine,” he recalls. Because the axle went up at a slight angle, the axle crushed him to about two inches on the right side.
“Call 911!” Bruce screamed. The driver went into shock when he saw Bruce’s condition. After he placed the emergency call, he grabbed the jack to hoist the truck off Bruce’s body, but the only place he could find to attach it was one of the springs near the wheel – a precarious and unstable position.
As the engine lifted above his crushed stomach, Bruce thought it would be impossible to look this way and still be alive. It was somewhat surreal; he thought his flattened body resembled a cartoon character.
I’m probably going to die, he thought...this will probably kill me.
“Get me out from under the truck,” Bruce yelled, fearful the truck might fall again. But the other man refused to touch him. With three shattered vertebrae, it was not a good idea to move his body.
Bruce reached back and grabbed the chrome bumper himself, then used all the strength he could muster. “I pulled as hard as I could and got my head out,” he recalls, but the rest of his body was still under the truck.
Immediately after that exertion, Bruce passed out. He believes he died at that moment or had a near-death experience. “I can say I died because when the medical people got there I didn’t have a pulse.”
Then something very strange happened. “My spirit left my body and went up in the roof of the garage. My spirit was up there looking down, at perfect peace.”
The other man knelt over Bruce’s body, crying, running his fingers through Bruce’s hair, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” he said repeatedly.
Then looking down from above, Bruce witnessed something even more startling. “I realized there was a huge angel on either side of my body,” he says. He estimates the angels were about eight feet tall, very muscular, dressed in white robes.
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