They're usually used for cutting open car wrecks, but SES volunteers yesterday had to use the
They're usually used for cutting open car wrecks, but SES volunteers yesterday had to use the "Jaws of Life" to cut a 30cm-long section of timber off a large spike of wood that had impaled the cheek of a Kyogle sawmill worker. Cade Mooney

Sawmill mishap victim “tough as nails”

WHEN Hogan Sawmill bench operator Steven Smith had a 50cm length of timber shoot up and impale his cheek yesterday morning, the first thing he did was to walk over to a colleague and say "check this out."

That's how tough 50 year-old, an almost six foot tall bear of a man, and father of four is.

Even more unbelievable is the fact Mr Smith, who grew up at Nimbin and has worked for most of his life in the timber industry, still managed to talk to colleagues with the length of timber protruding from his cheek, before he was taken to Kyogle hospital.

A Hogan Sawmill employee, who described Mr Smith as "tough as nails", said he was sawing an old log when the accident happened about 10am.

"The splinter came off the back of the saw and flicked up and got him in the side of the cheek," the employee said.

"He didn't have any blood in his mouth at all; it just went out the side of his cheek near his ear."

"He is a very lucky man, or unlucky too, I suppose you could say."

Once he arrived at Kyogle hospital and was assessed by a doctor, the SES were called to use the "jaws of life" to cut 30cm off the length of timber, so Mr Smith could be airlifted to the Gold Coast Hospital for surgery.

The Hogan Sawmill employee said they will be reporting the incident to WorkCover, who they expect will investigate.

"At this stage we are more concerned about how Steven is," the employee said.

The sawmill notified Mr Smith's wife and some of his children who jumped in the car and drove to the Gold Coast Hospital yesterday to be by his bedside.

Mr Smith underwent emergency surgery to remove the length of timber yesterday afternoon.

The doctor who performed the surgery told the Hogan Sawmill employee Mr Smith came though the operation well and was in a stable condition.



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