Victorian grandpa Bill Singleton, 70, was working in the bush when horror struck. Here, he tells his remarkable survival story in his own words.
Picking up my chainsaw to cut some fallen timber for my furnace, I knew my wife Lynette, 72, would be thinking of me.
Aware of the scar on my chin, and the gaps where my teeth should be, I could have felt nervous, too.
But I just wanted to get back to normal.
‘When you fall off your bike, you have to get back on,’ I’d told Lynette as I headed out to the bush near my home in Redan, Vic.
And if you slice your face open with a chainsaw, you still have to chop some wood...
To hear more from Bill, listen to our gripping podcast below.
Just months before, my saw had roared into life like any other day.
Suddenly, the tip of the blade hit a hard bit of wood and ricocheted towards me.
Before I knew it, I’d lost my grip.
The chainsaw was flying straight at me!
The powerful machine hit me in the jaw and an almighty pain ripped through my face.
Then it dropped to the ground, covered in gore.
Putting my hands to my face, hot blood was pouring from my chin.
I’m in real trouble, I realised.
Holding a hanky to my face, a woozy feeling overcame me and I fell to my knees in agony.
I needed to find help - fast.
So I crawled on my stomach to my ute, 40 metres away.
It was a long and painful journey.
As I bled, I felt flaps of flesh hanging from each side of my lips.
At my ute, I found gauze in my first aid kit and secured it to my chin with a sling.
My phone was in the car but I was 25km from the nearest town.
Would an ambo get here before I bled out?
Then I discovered another problem.
Trying to make a sound, I couldn’t move my tongue.
The chainsaw must have sliced it, I winced.
I couldn’t call for help if I tried.
I’ll have to drive myself, I decided, grabbing a towel and putting it around my next to soak up blood.
But I did my best not to look in the rear vision mirror as I drove.
I knew I’d look terrible.
Pain ripped through my face at each jolt and turn on the bumpy road.
Trying not to focus on it, my thoughts turned to Lynette.
She’d be expecting me home in a few hours.
Would I ever be able to speak to her again?
Reaching the hospital, my vision blurred as I got out.
Each step took an eternity.
Dropped to my knees, I picked myself up and made it to the doors.
A man saw me and a horrified look swept across his face.
He ran off and 10 seconds later came back with a team of helpers.
‘What happened?’ asked a doctor.
I groaned in response.
‘Have you been shot?’ he asked.
I shook my head.
‘Have you been shot?’ he asked. I shook my head.
‘Were you in a car accident?’ Another shake.
‘Have you been in a machinery accident?’ he finally said.
I nodded. Then the world went black.
Waking up in a groggy haze, I saw Lynette and our son Paul, 42, by my bed.
‘You’re in hospital,’ said Lynette. I couldn’t speak but was just relieved to be alive!
‘We’ve had to take some bone from your jaw,’ a doctor explained.
‘It’s being held together by a metal plate. You’ve also lost most of your teeth,’ he said.
The chainsaw had ripped so far into my mouth, it had gone as far back as my wisdom teeth.
I’d sliced the bottom of my face open like a book.
After hearing these gruesome details, I felt lucky to be alive.
Over the next 19 days in hospital I slowly began to talk again.
With nerve damage to my tongue, it felt permanently numb.
When I finally got to a mirror, I couldn’t believe what a great job the doctors had done.
All I could see was a row of stitches near my jaw.
Recovering at home, on a liquid and mushy food diet, I knew there was no way the accident would end my love of the outdoors.
Plus, I hand make petrol tanks, so I still needed to collect wood for my furnace.
That’s why I got back out their with my chainsaw.
Since then, I’ve had two more operations to secure my new metal jawline and to get my gums ready for dentures.
Now, almost three years on, my speech has recovered well.
Some sounds, like ess, can be tricky, though.
The worst thing is that I’m still on mushy food.
Four metal screws were put into my gums ready for my new teeth, but I’m still on the waiting list for my dentures.
So Lynette purees my vegies for me, and I can have tiny pieces of soft meat.
For a mug of tea, I have to use a straw but thankfully I can just about manage a stubbie.
‘What do you want to do for 70th?’ Lynette asked when it rolled around last year.
‘Let’s have a party - but not until I’ve got my teeth,’ I said, picturing tucking in to my favourite juicy steak.
So I had a quiet day, feeling thankful to have made it to my 70s.
Hopefully I’ll get my bite back soon, but almost three years after my close call I just want to enjoy life.
You never know when it might be cut short.
Can't get enough of Bill? Tune in below to our gripping new podcast How I Survived to hear him tell his horrifying story in his own words.