Machine horror of work experience boy

CURTIS Hook faces months of agonising treatment after almost slicing two fingers off in a sanding machine while on work experience.Thousands of parents entrust the lives of their children each day to business and companies in the hope they will be able to prepare them for a rewarding job which will give them the opportunity of a better life.

By Nick Richards

CURTIS Hook faces months of agonising treatment after almost slicing two fingers off in a sanding machine while on work experience.

Thousands of parents entrust the lives of their children each day to business and companies in the hope they will be able to prepare them for a rewarding job which will give them the opportunity of a better life.

Today, while 14-year-old Curtis relives the horrific accident his parents, Ivan and Lorraine, say they feel bitterly let down as they comfort their injured son.

And Colin Richardson, managing director of Classic Design Furniture at Great Blakenham, where Curtis was working at the time, said he was "really saddened" by what had happened to the teenager.

Curtis said: "On Monday I was doing manual sanding and I was supervised. I was wearing jeans and a T-shirt and ear-muffs. I was supervised as I sanded down 6ft lengths of wood, which were to be used for chairs.

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"On the Tuesday I turned up for work and did the same again. I was being supervised by the same man as on Monday on the sanding machine.

"The man finished the jobs he had to do as he was working in a chain and I was left to be supervised by somebody else.

"The other man couldn't see what I was doing as he was round the corner and he had headphones on so he couldn't hear me.

"I had been shown how to use the machine the day before. They told me not to leave the machine running and not to put my fingers in.

"I was pushing a bit of wood in when the conveyor belt jammed. I thought I'd broken the machine and would be in trouble, so I tried to think what to do.

"I went to push the wood through, but my hand got caught between the metal plate and the wood on the conveyor belt."

Curtis's left hand had become stuck in the belt. The 14-year-old said he couldn't see his fingers as they were getting more and more jammed.

"It did hurt at this point and I started to pull my fingers out but it hurt more. I stopped the machine with my foot by hitting the stop bar.

"The conveyor belt stopped, but I couldn't release my hand so I managed to turn the machine by hand to release my fingers.

"When I saw my hand it was dripping with blood. I thought it would be grazed, but I was shocked when I saw the state of it."

Two fingers on Curtis's left hand had been badly mangled in the machinery.

The middle finger of his left hand had the end third hanging off, while the soft underside of his ring finger had been torn off.

"I couldn't feel anything and couldn't believe it was bleeding as much as it was. When I saw the bone I felt the pain for the first time and it really started then.

"I went over to one of the men and he couldn't hear me, so I waved my hand in front of him. He stopped and said: 'Jesus! Oh my god.'

"He walked me to first aid and told me to put my hand in the air. He said it was not as bad as it looked although it was dripping with blood."

Curtis was taken to Ipswich Hospital, where he was given morphine to control the pain.

Doctors at the hospital quickly realised that the injury was too great for them to handle and so Curtis's parents drove him up to the new Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, where he was operated on the following day.

His dad Ivan said: "When we heard about the accident we were told he had cut himself. We just thought it would be something that would be treated with a plaster.

"When I arrived at the hospital, I was shown the pictures of the injury and realised it was a major problem.

"When we got to Norwich the staff told us that Curtis would keep his finger. That was the first time we knew he wouldn't lose his finger. Until that point we thought it would have to be amputated."

Curtis spent two hours in surgery on Wednesday in which his finger was repaired. Surgeons cut a V-shape into the finger which had lost the fleshy part and pushed up fatty deposits from the palm of the hand. Surgeons told him he would be scarred for life and will have to physiotherapy to regain the correct use of the hand.

Mr Richardson, speaking from his Chapel Lane furniture company today, told the Evening Star: "I am really saddened by what happened and I feel gutted for the boy. It is such a shame and unfortunate that it happened."

He has reported the incident to Health and Safety officers at Suffolk County Council and an investigation is under way into what happened.

"I hope to visit Curtis over the weekend," he said.

"I have had 43 work experience people here in 12 years and this is the first time anything like this has happened."

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