Boy's skull pierced with 6-inch screw in freak accident

Posted: Updated:
A six-inch screw pierced a boy's skull, right between the brain's two hemispheres. (Photo Credit: Dr. Alan Cohen) A six-inch screw pierced a boy's skull, right between the brain's two hemispheres. (Photo Credit: Dr. Alan Cohen)

By Mark Lieber and Michael Nedelman, CNN

(CNN) -- A freak accident nearly took the life of a 13-year-old Maryland boy last weekend when a 6-inch screw entered his skull, his family and doctor told CNN.

Darius Foreman was building a treehouse Saturday when he fell from a branch, knocking over a five-foot-long wooden board, which came down on top of his head, his mother Joy Ellingsworth recounted.

An X-ray from Johns Hopkins Hospital, where the boy was airlifted, shows a portion of the screw lodged right between the two halves of the brain -- threatening to tear the largest channel that drains blood and other fluids from the brain. Injury to this part of the brain could have been "catastrophic," according to his surgeon, Dr. Alan Cohen.

"He was a millimeter away from having himself bleed to death," Cohen, chief of neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins, told CNN.

"I absolutely panicked," Ellingsworth said. "It was very scary, one of the scariest things I've ever been through."

Because the board was still attached to him by the screw in his head, fire rescue couldn't fit Foreman into the ambulance at first, so they used the family's saw to cut the board down from 5 feet to 2, Ellingsworth said.

Even then, he still had trouble fitting into the first of two helicopters that came to airlift him to the hospital.

"We were on pins and needles" during the delicate operation, said Cohen. He removed tiny fragments of bone and a small blood clot during a two-hour surgery early Sunday.

"He had the board in there a total of about seven hours," his mother said.

Cohen said he had been at home with his wife, neurosurgeon Dr. Shenandoah "Dody" Robinson, when they got the call.

"It doesn't matter who's on call; you both wake up," Cohen said. "So she went in first and cut the bolt and the board off his head," leaving the end of the screw for Cohen's team to operate on.

"He's a lucky kid," Cohen added.

The operation was a success, and Foreman was discharged Thursday.

He kept the screw, a memory of his close call and a gift from the hospital on his 13th birthday -- the day he was discharged.

Foreman said he learned a valuable lesson that day: "Never build a tree fort."

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

  • NationalMore>>

  • Police fatally shoot 17-year-old boy fleeing traffic stop

    Police fatally shoot 17-year-old boy fleeing traffic stop

    Saturday, June 23 2018 10:33 AM EDT2018-06-23 14:33:26 GMT
    No shots were fired at the officers during the encounter, and no weapon was found on Rose's body. (Source: KDKA/CNN)No shots were fired at the officers during the encounter, and no weapon was found on Rose's body. (Source: KDKA/CNN)

    Authorities say a police officer fatally shot a 17-year-old boy just seconds after he fled from a traffic stop in a confrontation partly captured on video shot from a nearby home.

    More >

    Authorities say a police officer fatally shot a 17-year-old boy just seconds after he fled from a traffic stop in a confrontation partly captured on video shot from a nearby home.

    More >
  • AP Explains: US has split up families throughout its history

    AP Explains: US has split up families throughout its history

    Saturday, June 23 2018 9:23 AM EDT2018-06-23 13:23:23 GMT
    (AP Photo/File). FILE - In this March 30, 1942 file photo, Cpl. George Bushy, left, a member of the military guard which supervised the departure of 237 Japanese people for California, holds the youngest child of Shigeho Kitamoto, center, as she and he...(AP Photo/File). FILE - In this March 30, 1942 file photo, Cpl. George Bushy, left, a member of the military guard which supervised the departure of 237 Japanese people for California, holds the youngest child of Shigeho Kitamoto, center, as she and he...
    AP Explains: US has split up families and detained children throughout its history.More >
    AP Explains: US has split up families and detained children throughout its history.More >
  • At least 3 "tender age" shelters set up for child migrants

    At least 3 "tender age" shelters set up for child migrants

    Saturday, June 23 2018 8:13 AM EDT2018-06-23 12:13:58 GMT
    Nicole Hernandez, of the Mexican state of Guerrero, holds on to her mother as they wait with other families to request political asylum in the United States, across the border in Tijuana, Mexico, on Wednesday, June 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)Nicole Hernandez, of the Mexican state of Guerrero, holds on to her mother as they wait with other families to request political asylum in the United States, across the border in Tijuana, Mexico, on Wednesday, June 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

    Migrant babies and young children are being held in special "tender age" shelters after being taken from their parents at the US-Mexico border.

    More >

    Migrant babies and young children are being held in special "tender age" shelters after being taken from their parents at the US-Mexico border.

    More >