How Massachusetts Man Crushed by 10,000-Pound Granite Defied Odds to Recover: 'There Is Life After a Trauma'

After his horrific accident, Mike Wolo was given a 2% chance to live. And his loved ones were advised by doctors to say their goodbyes. But Mike had other plans.

Massachusetts is lucky to be alive after his face was crushed by a 10,000-pound slab of granite in a freak accident that stunned first responders, horrified visitors and that doctors said he had only a 2% chance of surviving.

At first, Mike Wolo said no when his friend who owns a granite importing business asked him to assist in unloading bundles of granite used for kitchen countertops. Mike had helped in the past, but the thought of again handling the bundles, which weighed about 10,000 pounds, gave him significant pause. 

“I've helped him multiple times over the course of a couple of years and I really didn't enjoy doing it,” Mike tells Inside Edition Digital. “I found it to be dangerous.”

But his friend insisted, and after being asked several times, Mike finally agreed to help out. When he arrived at the site, Mike felt things were off. 

“It was a different crane operator than we've used in the past. He set up in a different location than we normally would set up,” he says. “It looked like the cargo container was just pulled out of the ocean. It was all rusted up and dented and kind of surprised us.”

But he honored his promise, and got to work. After noticing that the floor of the container was buckling, Mike turned back to unload more of the bundles. The next few seconds, Mike says, were a blur. 

“I just hear David screaming at the top of his lungs, and I don't understand why he's screaming,” he says. “It just surprised me. So I start running, and at that point, I look up, and I see a wall of stone falling on me.”

In an instant, a 10,000-pound slab of granite came crashing down. 

“It came down and hit my left temple, and crushed my face and head against the other bundle of stone on the other side of the container,” he says. “The impact was so immense, they said the whole tractor trailer went up on its side and then flipped back down.”

The men on site worked to free Mike, but were shocked by his appearance. “They said they could see inside my skull,” Mike says. “Everybody's just screaming and crying and assume I'm dead.”

Mike's friend, David, took charge and worked to get him out from under the crushed stone. 

"So they realized, OK, well, it's not like they can give me mouth-to-mouth. I have no mouth," Mike says. "So they all decide to kind of hold my body and flip me upside down to empty out all the blood that is blocking my airways. All three of them taking turns holding my head back together because everything's just wide open. They said blood is just pouring out."

When first responders arrived, they were also stunned. 

"They kind of just looked at me like, 'OK, this guy's done.’ I mean, there's nothing to his head," Mike says. 

After being airlifted to the hospital, Mike woke and felt the magnitude of his injuries, which included a broken neck, broken shoulders, a fractured C1 and C2, a ripped jaw broken into three parts, broken cheekbones and swollen, misplaced eyes. 

"You could read people's faces coming to visit you and see the horror on their face," he says. 

Because of the severity of his injuries, doctors gave Mike a 2% chance of living and advised his loved ones to say their goodbyes. While his two brothers spoke with him, Mike says he squeezed one of their arms to alert them that he was awake. The surprising gesture let them know Mike was fighting to stay alive.

The Uphill Road to Recovery Begins

Some of the swelling in his body went down in a few days. Even so, Mike had yet to see what his face looked like. His family also insisted that no one let him near mirrors. He soon found out why, one morning after a nurse came in to shave his face. 

“At the end of him giving me a shave, he's like, ‘Well, look, you look great again.’ And he grabbed a mirror and faced towards me,” Mike says. “And I'm looking going, ‘I don't know who am I looking at?’”

This prompted Mike to go into the bathroom mirror, for what he calls the worst moment of his life. 

“I looked like Sloth from the movie 'Goonies,'" Mike says. 

“All I just remember is the horror of like, ‘well, life's over. What woman would want to be near me? What children would ever want to go near me?’ I guess, the thoughts of, ‘OK, someday I'll get married and have a family of my own,’ we're out the door,” he says.

The moment brought tears to his eyes not only because of the realization of just how bad his accident was, but also because of how his mother, also in the room, reacted. “I broke her,” Mike says. “I had her crying, and I felt terrible and guilty.”

It was in that moment that Mike decided to work to get out of the hospital. He began walking every day, getting stronger and hitting milestones. He also set out to prove doctors wrong, who said that returning to his active life of outdoor activities and sports would probably not happen. 

But three months after the accident, Mike was snowboarding again.  

“Talk about an unbelievable feeling of being free again, feeling you just belong,” he says. “Sightseeing and being out in nature and just enjoying outdoors and breathing some fresh air. So just unbelievable.”

His full recovery took almost a year. In addition to having 110 screws and 20 titanium plates holding his face together, swelling remained for months, and he battled pain, agoraphobia, anxiety and depression.

A Fresh Start at Life

Mike marked the end of his recovery by training and competing with a semi-professional football team in his city. And despite having thoughts in his hospital room that he wouldn’t find love, he did with Rebecca, a childhood friend.

“About a year and a half later, we were married,” he says. “Now we have two little boys, Michael and Evan, and life is really good. Never ever would've imagined being married to a beautiful, smart, sweet woman and having two incredible sweet boys. I guess good things do come to those who wait.”

Mike still has long-term symptoms that include pain, sinus issues and occasional ear infections. But he said that’s the price he pays to survive such an accident.

Overall, Mike is grateful for his life and wants to continue to motivate others who are dealing with trauma.

“People want to hear a nice story once in a while," he says. "Whether somebody was in a car accident, a workplace accident,  or a motorcycle accident, you got to find happiness somehow. And my story, I think, gives a lot of people hope. There is life after a trauma.”

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