Monica Thayer is lucky to be alive after an industrial accident that nearly ripped off her skull during her first week on the job.
On July 2, Thayer, 25, of Norton, Ohio, was working at JR Engineering which manufactures and sells precision components for companies like Ford, Lockheed Martin and the United States government.
She was in the Barberton factory cleaning a machine that cuts steel tubing when her long brown hair, which was pulled back, got caught and yanked her face first into the device.
“My biggest fear was that I would be moments away from getting rescued, and then it would start-up and kill me,” she said in a report that aired on Fox affiliate WDAF-TV. “The next thing I realized, it had sucked me up and pulled me behind the bar that started to spin as I was cleaning the machine out, and up against the cutter.”
Unable to reach the safety stop button, Thayer screamed for help.
"Luckily, I have a big mouth and a loud voice, so they could hear me over the machine." Thayer told WEWS-TV.
Rescue crews spent 20 minutes trying to free Thayer from the machine. Although she knew the hair had been ripped out, she didn't realize her scalp had been torn off as well.
"The only thing I thought of was I was going to bleed to death or the machine was going to start up and just snap my neck," Thayer told WEWS-TV.
Surgeons at Akron General spent eight hours stopping Thayer's head from bleeding and saved her life.
Kathy Mefford, human relations director for JR Engineering, told the Akron Beacon Journal that the company is still investigating the incident and could not immediately comment.
The medical bills may be tough for Thayer to cover, since her new job only pays $8 per hour and doesn't provide health insurance.
Although Thayer will never have hair or eyebrows again, she told WEWS-TV that the pain on her head isn't as bad as expected since her nerves were also ripped out. She still feels "a burning sensation" in the areas of her legs where skin was grafted.
Thayer doesn't blame the company for what she calls a "freak accident," but wants the machine's manufacturer to make safety improvements.
"I don't want this to happen to anybody else. It was horrific. It was terrifying," Thayer told the station. "I would never wish this upon anybody, not even my worst enemy."
Barberton Fire Chief Kim Baldwin said he did a preliminary investigation Tuesday and told WKYC-TV that it appears all safety functions were working properly.
He handed the investigation over to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which is looking into the accident, according to spokeswoman Brigitte Frank.
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