Screams of Queenstown tortilla worker trapped in conveyor unheard for 15 minutes video

HAMISH McNEILLY/Stuff.co.nz

Daniel Figueroa got his right arm caught in a conveyor belt at his Queenstown workplace, Remarkable Tortillas.

Queenstown teenager Daniel Figueroa will receive a decision that will define his future on Wednesday.

The Remarkable Tortillas worker will find out if he gets to keep his right arm after it was crushed in a conveyor for 20 seconds last week.

Whatever the decision, he remains optimistic.

The Remarkable Tortillas worker Daniel Figueroa, 19, will find out if he gets to keep his right arm after it was crushed ...
HAMISH McNEILLY/FAIRFAX NZ

The Remarkable Tortillas worker Daniel Figueroa, 19, will find out if he gets to keep his right arm after it was crushed in a conveyor for 20 seconds.

"I'm just nervous but I'm still thinking positively and hopefully it can get back to normal.

READ MORE:
* Queenstown worker's arm sucked into conveyor at Remarkable Tortillas
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"I will still take a few months to figure things out," he said.

Six days and two operations after the incident, Figueroa, 19, is lying in a Dunedin hospital with a "huge hole" in his elbow.

"You can see the bone and the meat coming out of it," he said.

It was during a night shift when his arm became trapped in an operating conveyor after he stopped it to try get a stuck tortilla out. 

He put a glove on and attempted to remove the tortilla but "somehow" the machine started operating again.

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He screamed for help but no-one heard him over the noise of the factory operating.

About 20 seconds later, he reached the switch to turn it off but remained trapped in the conveyor for another 15 minutes before his calls were heard.

Two co-workers called St John and the Fire Service about 5pm. He said he was panicking as he waited for help.

"I just kept telling them 'guys pour water on it'. I could barely see my arm but I could see it burning," he said.

"It just felt really numb."

Besides the damage to his elbow, Figeroa has broken bones and badly damaged nerves in his wrist.

He had been working at the factory from 3pm to 11pm after finishing at Wakatipu High School. He was saving up to study geography at university.

"It would probably depend on how bad my arm is – I might not be capable of doing another job but I would love to go to uni somehow," he said. 

"I thought it would be bad, but not that bad. [I] knew I probably have to go to the hospital but not something permanent," he said.

Remarkable Tortillas owner Russell Griffiths said the factory was back to full production.

A WorkSafe New Zealand spokesperson said an investigation was under way.

 - Stuff

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