Aw, Shoot: Wisconsin Man Accidentally Fires Nail Gun Into Heart (But He's Fine)

Aug 16, 2017
Originally published on August 16, 2017 8:01 pm

If he was aiming for DIY mishap fame, Doug Bergeson really nailed it.

Bergeson accidentally shot a nail through his chest and into his heart ... then drove himself to the ER, where open-heart surgery removed the 3 1/2-inch nail and saved his life.

The accident with the nail gun happened seven weeks ago. But this week, WBAY News interviewed the Peshtigo, Wis., resident about his experience.

The video is well worth a watch. You might shake your head at Bergeson's error. You might gape agog at his great luck. But above all, you gotta admire his sang-froid.

The accident happened as Bergeson was holding the nail gun on the other side of a piece of lumber, aiming for a spot he couldn't quite reach. He accidentally dropped the tool, and it fired toward him.

First, he felt the nail go in. "It kind of stung me," he told WBAY.

Then he reached down and felt it sticking out from his ribs. "That's not good," he recalls thinking.

Then he looked and saw the nail pulsing with his heartbeat. "It's kind of like, 'I'm not going to get anything done today, I can see that already.' "

Bergeson drove his truck to the ER, but wasn't feeling so great by the time he arrived. He told a security guard, "It'd be great if you can find somebody to help me out here. I'm just going to sit down."

When he got in touch with his wife, he said he needed a new shirt. When she arrived at the hospital, he said, quote: "Oops."

Doctors told WBAY the nail pierced Bergeson's heart right next to a major artery. A slightly different angle or position could have created "a much more complicated problem," as a cardiothoracic surgeon with a gift for understatement told the TV station. And Bergeson correctly left the nail in place instead of trying to remove it, which would have been even more dangerous.

After open-heart surgery, Bergeson is doing great. He healed right up — no permanent damage.

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