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Boeing Worker Who Lost Legs in Factory Accident Hopes to Return to Work

boeing injured worker

Josh Divers and his surgeons at press conference before leaving Harborview Medical Center.

Josh Divers, the Boeing worker whose legs were amputated after being crushed by a 787 Dreamliner at Everett’s Paine Field, recently gave a public account of the incident, but says he doesn’t know how he got caught under the jet’s wheels. However, he dismissed rumors around the Boeing plant that he might have been distracted by using his cell phone.

“The phone was in my pocket,” said Josh Divers, talking at a Harborview Medical Center news conference prior to his release. He clarified that the phone rang in his pocket when his girlfriend called him during his transport to the helicopter for airlift to Harborview.

Divers, a 30-year-old worker, underwent eight surgeries and two skin grafts while at the hospital. Despite the severity of his double amputation injury, Divers was in exceptionally good spirits, smiling through the news conference. He only appeared to struggle emotionally when his parents chimed in about the experience.

“I’ve always had strength,” he stated, adding that he looks forward to riding a motorcycle again one day.

Boeing, the Machinists union, the Department of Labor and Industries and other agencies are still in the process of investigating details surrounding the accident.

Divers had been a Boeing employee for a little over a year before the accident occurred. He was walking alongside the tires of the 787’s main landing gear beneath the wing, holding a wedge that prevent the tires from rolling after the plane is stopped. Somehow Divers fell, was dragged about 12 feet, and then pinned under the wheel for over half an hour one the plane was stopped. During that entire period he was conscious and experienced an “incredible burning, just horrible pain” in his legs.

“I remember everything until getting in the helicopter, except basically getting hit and how I got underneath there,” Divers said. “From having my feet start to be run over to getting extricated, that’s all pretty fresh.”

As managers from nearby buildings arrived on the scene to consult with emergency medical personnel, Divers listened to them discussing how to get the plane off him the without doing further damage.

Before Divers was freed, his femur snapped. Boeing staff used a forklift beneath the engine block to lift the weight off the landing gear, and then lifted the wheels with a jack.

Divers expressed his thanks to the team of surgeons who amputated his legs below the knee and performed extensive skin grafts that will allow him to use prosthetics down the road.

And he praised Boeing’s support, saying company officials were in frequent contact “to make sure that what I need, I’ll get.” He said he wants to return to work there.

“I don’t know how much I can, but I’ll want to,” Divers said. “I really like working for Boeing. It’s been a lot of learning, a lot of fun people to work with.”

Dr. Douglas Smith, University of Washington professor of orthopedics and sports medicine at Harborview, who performed the amputations, said Divers has shown “an amazing amount of resilience.” It will take some months before the skin grafts are healed enough for him to get fitted for prosthetic legs, Smith said.

Divers will recuperate at his father’s home in Arlington, returning to Harborview for rehabilitation when his skin grafts have healed sufficiently.

The Washington Employment Lawyers of Emery Reddy are proud to represent Boeing employees injured at work. Our work injury attorneys also help Washington residents with third party injuries and with independent medical examinations. Contact us today for help with your workers compensation claim.

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