Tortilla worker yet to re­cover


‘‘It just keeps get­ting worse... I start to feel bet­ter and then an­other thing hap­pens.’’

A Queen­stown teenager who had a part of his fin­ger re­moved af­ter a tortilla fac­tory ac­ci­dent may lose his other four dig­its.

Daniel Figueroa, 19, suf­fered ma­jor in­juries to his right arm when it was crushed in a con­veyor belt on Novem­ber 23.

He also suf­fered se­vere burns in the in­ci­dent.

The end of one fin­ger has been re­moved, as the burn dam­age threat­ened to spread into the bone.

There is a pos­si­bil­ity parts of the re­main­ing four fin­gers will also have to be am­pu­tated.

‘‘It just keeps get­ting worse,’’ Figueroa said.

The former Wakatipu High School stu­dent had the first piece of fin­ger re­moved on Jan­uary 2.

The bone near his el­bow had also not healed.

‘‘This bit near my el­bow is so dead.

‘‘There’s a vein there and it’s not cov­ered by any skin,’’ he said.

Figueroa has had four oper­a­tions since his arm was crushed and burnt as he at­tempted to re­move a stuck tortilla at Re­mark­able Tor­tillas.

He was ini­tially hospitalised with se­vere burns, dam­age to his el­bow, bro­ken bones and badly dam­aged nerves in his wrist.

He spent Christ­mas Day and New Years Day at Dunedin Hos- pital with his mother, while the rest of the fam­ily were in the re­sort.

He had since been able to re­turn home to Queen­stown, but was strug­gling to re­cover, he said.

‘‘I start to feel bet­ter and then an­other thing hap­pens.’’

A dis­trict nurse vis­its Figueroa ev­ery two days.

His next hos­pi­tal ap­point­ment in two weeks.

A loss of blood from the in­ci­dent caused mild anaemia, with iron lev­els drop­ping ‘‘re­ally low’’ and an 8kg weight loss, Figueroa said.

‘‘I’ve been so pale, when I am nor­mally quite dark skinned,’’ he added.

When the in­ci­dent hap­pened, Daniel was work­ing with two other work­ers who called po­lice, the Fire Ser­vice, and St John.

The Re­mark­able Tor­tillas fac­tory was back to its full pro­duc­tion five days af­ter the in­ci­dent, with WorkSafe New Zealand still in­ves­ti­gat­ing.

Figueroa’s fam­ily moved from Chile about eight years ago.

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