Frank Arce’s story of survival is nothing short of miraculous. The Longview, Washington resident and employee of the Swanson Bark and Wood Products Company works with machines that turn bark into wood chips. KATU News reported that when one of the wood chippers got jammed, Frank climbed into the shut off machine to retrieve the object causing the jam. This was all in accordance with the company’s standard practices. When he was inside the wood chipper’s narrow barrel, he heard the terrifying sound of the machine’s engine starting. Someone outside started the machine, unaware that Arce was within it. The spikes and claws of the wood chipper were activated and Arce was trapped.
KATU spoke with Arce from his room at PeaceHealth SW Washington Medical center. Surprisingly the survivor told KATU, "Actually going through the machine itself wasn't the worst part about it." He said the worst part was, “…the not knowing what was going to happen."
During the ten-seconds the machine was on, the Washington man remained conscious. He sustained seven broken ribs, a broken pelvis, a shattered ankle, bruised liver, broken leg, a collapsed lung and a deep cut running the length of his back.
Even from his hospital bed where he is being treated for the severe injuries, Mr. Arce said, “I’m feeling alright. I mean, not too bad. It’s been a rough couple of days but I’m doing good. I’m hanging in there.”
He is indeed a strong man and revealed that when the machine cut on, he had a thought that he would die. However, he had an even stronger thought, “It was more like something was telling me I wasn’t going to die that day.” He added that he felt that he had a lot of angels and people looking out for him in his moment of need. Arce also credits his training and the help of his co-workers with enabling him to get the right care he needed, as quickly as possible.
He will stay in the hospital for two-and-a-half more weeks to recover. Swanson Bark and Wood will be covering one hundred percent of their injured employee’s medical bills. KATU found no previous workplace problems in the company’s past and the Washington state Bureau of Labor and Industries will be investigating the incident.
When asked if he’ll be to one hundred percent again Arce said, “I like to think so. Yeah. But I’m stubborn like that.”
Video and more info: KATU
- Disease & Medical Conditions
- wood chipper