OCALA — Doctors say a Central Florida laborer impaled by a piece of rebar from a concrete block is lucky to be alive after the object narrowly missed his vital organs.
Casey Zawojski, 20, was painting an Ocala home last week when he fell backward off a ladder, landing on a partially constructed pillar. The rebar pierced his lower back.
A pastor who was putting up drywall nearby heard the man's screams and rushed to his aid. Dax Romine grabbed his electric power saw and cut the rebar so Zawojski would not be hanging from it.
The pastor said he hadn't planned on bringing his tools to that site because he had another job that day, but at the last minute threw them in his car.
"I really honestly believe that God provided that piece of tool in this case," Romine said.
Miraculously, the Ocala Star-Banner reports a piece of the victim's shirt also went into the cavity and kept the wound from bleeding.
Zawojski said he knew he'd hit something when he fell because he tried to get up and couldn't move. But he said his first instinct was to remain calm and stay awake.
"All kinds of thoughts were going through my mind. I wanted to be alive, I wanted to see my family again," he said.
Zawojski said he also prayed Romine would "cut as fast as he could so it could be over with."
Zawojski suffered a collapsed lung and damage to several ribs. His uncle Richard Maitha said the rebar passed through his chest and stopped close to his neck, and barely missed his heart.
A surgeon moved skin and muscles aside so the rebar would come out easily when it was removed. The doctor said the surgery to remove the rebar, which was about an inch around and 10- to 12-inches long, lasted about two hours.
The victim was sitting up in a wheelchair Friday and said he was already feeling much better.