Boeing News Release
The potential for trouble should have been obvious to this sixteen-year member of the Machinists Union, and yet, despite redundant safety procedures, tags, warning signs, and a fearful co-worker, our Darwin Award hopeful began to remove a hydraulic line without relieving the pressure.
The bolts holding the line in place were so tight that he had to locate a 4-foot section of pipe to attach to his ratchet to give him enough leverage to loosen the bolt. For some, that would have been warning enough that the line was pressurized.
Four high-strength bolts attached the line to the machine. The soon-to-be-ex-employee had removed three, and loosened the fourth, when the over-stressed bolt snapped. A foot-long, 3" diameter brass sleeve was inside the line to prevent the hose from kinking. It shot out and hit the mechanic in the forehead with such force that it knocked him back eight feet, ricocheted off his head, and hit a crane fifty feet overhead.
The maintenance worker never knew what hit him.
The details of this event come from eyewitness reports and a news
release from Boeing. The precise details are disputed, but the story is
written to take as many observations into account as possible.
Eyewitnesses and knowledgeable parties are encouraged to step forward to
confirm or dispute this account.