Man Who Survived Crowbar Impalement Takes On Comrades

A near-fatal accident almost cost this runner his life. Now, he's taking on the 2018 Comrades Marathon!

Comrades Marathon Press Office |

One afternoon in January 2015, engineering supervisor Daniel De Wet was working on washing out a dam 3.5km underground at a mine in Carletonville, using an extended crowbar to stir up the mud, when he suddenly slipped. De Wet looked down and, to his shock, saw that the metal bar had penetrated his body entering his groin area and coming out of his back, just below his shoulder blade.

He recalls how the mine’s rescue team had to carry him perched awkwardly in a sitting position on a stretcher, as the metal bar protruding from his body was almost level with Mr De Wet’s feet, making it impossible for him lie down.

“I was talking the whole time, trying to keep the other guys calm,” he remembers. Having been brought up to surface level at a pace that would ensure that he did not suffer any adverse decompression effects, commonly known as ‘the bends’, he was airlifted to Netcare Milpark Hospital’s trauma centre by an experienced team of paramedics.

When he arrived, two surgical teams, trauma surgeon Professor Boffard and Professor Elias Degiannis, were ready to operate: one team concentrating on his injuries in the abdomen and one on those in the chest area.

daniel de wet takes on Comrades Marathon
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Once the extended crowbar was pulled completely free of Mr De Wet’s body, the doctors saw that the impalement had caused significant damage, destroying one kidney and damaging his small bowel and numerous blood vessels. Although Mr De Wet lost a kidney, he made rapid progress and was discharged from hospital just 19 days later.

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He never imagined that just three-and-a-half years later, he would be making final preparations to take on his first Comrades Marathon since the accident. De Wet was a keen runner prior to his accident, with six Comrades Marathons under his belt. After the accident, he wasn’t sure he’d ever be able to run again.

“Just three-and-a-half years ago, my wife and colleagues were praying for my survival, and when I was able to walk out of the hospital only 19 days later, we regarded it as a miracle from God. To think that I have now successfully qualified to take on the Comrades Marathon once more is truly remarkable and every day I am so grateful for the recovery I have made,” De Wet says.

“Day by day, I have regained my strength, and this year I have managed to qualify for the 2018 Comrades Marathon. I am dedicating my run to every single rescue worker, paramedic, firefighter, and especially to Netcare 911, Netcare Milpark Hospital and trauma surgeon Professor Kenneth Boffard.”

On 10 June, he will be taking on the challenge of this year’s Comrades Marathon with his running club, the Carleton Harriers, wearing race number 49470.

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Daniel De Wet acknowledges that the ultramarathon will be a challenge. “I think the hardest aspect is when you realise that you are running out of time to complete the race, your legs are so tired but you just need to find the strength to push yourself to make up time.”

“I am fortunate to have an amazing support base, particularly my wife, and there are so many people encouraging me. I have many friends and guys who run with me, and they have helped me through the difficult times.”

Keep an out out for Daniel at next week’s Comrades Marathon!

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