Air hose mishap turns NZ trucker into 'human balloon'

Steven McCormack was working on his truck at Opotiki on the North Island on Saturday when he slipped between the cab and the trailer, breaking a compressed air hose off an air reservoir that powered the truck’s brakes, the Whakatane Beacon reported.

The report said the brass fitting that the hose had been attached to pierced McCormack’s left buttock in the fall, sending compressed air rushing into his body. The 48-year-old said he felt as if he was going to explode and began to scream as his neck, feet and hands swelled up.

“I was blowing up like a football... it felt like I had the bends, like in diving. I had no choice but just to lay there, blowing up like a balloon,” he told the newspaper. McCormack’s workmates heard his screams and ran to him, quickly releasing a safety valve to stop the air flow.

Ambulance officers removed the brass nozzle from his buttock and rushed him to Whakatane Hospital, where a surgeon treated the injury and drained one of his lungs, which had filled with fluid during the ordeal.

McCormack said doctors later told him that the air separated fat from muscle and they were surprised his skin did not burst.Now recuperating in Whakatane Hospital, he told the Beacon his skin felt “like a pork roast”, hard and crackly on the outside but soft underneath.

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