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Compressed air turns NZ trucker into human balloon

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand – A New Zealand truck driver said he blew up like a balloon when he fell onto the fitting of a compressed air hose that pierced his buttock and forced air into his body at 100 pounds a square inch.

Steven McCormack was standing on his truck's foot plate Saturday when he slipped and fell, breaking a compressed air hose off an air reservoir that powered the truck's brakes.

He fell hard onto the brass fitting, which pierced his left buttock and started pumping air into his body.

"I felt the air rush into my body and I felt like it was going to explode from my foot," he told local media from his hospital bed in the town of Whakatane, on North Island's east coast.

"I was blowing up like a football," he said. "I had no choice but just to lay there, blowing up like a balloon."

McCormack's workmates heard his screams and ran to him, quickly releasing a safety valve to stop the air flow, said Robbie Petersen, co-owner of the trucking company.

He was rushed to the hospital with terrible swelling and fluid in one lung. Doctors said the air had separated fat from muscle in McCormack's body, but had not entered his bloodstream.

McCormack, 48, said his skin felt "like a pork roast" — crackling on the outside but soft underneath.

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