A do-it-yourself project exploded in a Carbonville man's face Oct. 1, crushing his skull and nearly decapitating him.
Brent Pilling, 59, was blasted by the lid of a 55-gallon drum as trapped vapors exploded while he was cutting the metal with oxygen-acetylene torches. Pilling was attempting to work the drum into a feed barrel for his father's livestock.
"It was a horrible accident," said Brent's family from patriarch Bud Pilling's pavilion. "It's amazing he survived."
Pilling was taken to Castleview Hospital before being taken by Eagle Air Med helicopter to the University of Utah Medical Center for treatment.
Pilling was thrown several feet and knocked unconscious from the impact of the lid. However, he was able to get his arms up in time to keep from being beheaded. His arms were thrown back into his face with such impact that the outer portion of his skull was broken, both of his orbital sockets were shattered and his nose was destroyed. The opposing side of Brent's skull was also fractured causing doctors to fear meningitis.
According to his family, Pilling felt safe cutting the drum as it had been empty for some time. However, because the drum was sealed airtight, the vapors persisted.
Pilling, who is a retired coal miner, had cut the drums for his father many times before. The accident occurred at about 9 a.m. The explosion was reportedly loud enough to be heard by half of Price.
Pilling was in stable condition Monday but the fractures in his face and all through his right arm will take some time to heal.
"The medical bills are outrageous," said Pilling's cousin Kylie O'Hearon who heard the explosion from her trailer within the park. "It is going to be very difficult for our family to deal with this."
Donations for Pilling can be made at the Eastern Utah Community Credit Union via account number 51291. A spaghetti dinner and bake sale will also be held for Pilling on Saturday, Oct. 19 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Price Methodist Church.