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Wisconsin mill explosion victim continues recovery

August 14, 2017

RANDOLPH, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin man is continuing to recover after losing both his legs in a mill explosion earlier this year.

Collin Vander Galien of Randolph received prosthetic legs last week. They cost a total of $160,000, the Wisconsin State Journal reported .

The 23-year-old lost his legs during the Didion Milling Plant explosion in Cambria in May. The explosion killed five workers and injured 10 others, including Vander Galien. He’d only been working at the plant for four months.

Vander Galien said he put his arms up to shield his face when he heard the blast. A train car landed on his legs and crushed them.

“I couldn’t feel anything in my legs,” Vander Galien said. “I tried to wiggle out of there. They were just stuck.”

Dr. Eric Anderson and a paramedic had to amputate his legs at the scene. His right leg was amputated just below the knee, while his left was amputated just above the knee.

“They said I didn’t bleed out because there was so much pressure on my legs,” Vander Galien said.

Vander Galien’s father, Bill Vander Galien, said his son has tried to stay positive.

“About the second sentence he said to us was, ‘My legs are gone. They’re not going to grow back. Let’s move on,’” Bill Vander Galien said. “And that’s the attitude he’s had since that morning he woke up from his surgery.”

The prosthetic for Vander Galien’s left leg has a knee made in Germany, said David Sisson, the prosthetist. The knee has only been available to the general public for about two years and is the most robust, heavy-duty microprocessor knee available, he said.

“This knee is probably the smartest thing in the room,” Sisson said.

Despite the knee’s technology, Sisson said Vander Galien likely won’t be doing anymore heavy labor in his life.

Vander Galien said he’s considering working for the NBA G-League affiliate of the Milwaukee Bucks or working at the YMCA.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration hasn’t ruled on the cause of the explosion. Cambria Village President Glen Williams says the investigation could take six months to complete.

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Information from: Wisconsin State Journal, http://www.madison.com/wsj

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