Injured rock driller now recovered
Emmit Hoyl called it a “fowl blow” when he hit the corner of his hammer against the steel bit during the Single-Jack Rock Drilling World Championship during Saturday’s Nevada Day celebration.
“A chip of the hammer flew into my arm and managed to catch what I believe was an artery,” Hoyl explained. “Because I was so pumped up from drilling, the blood just started pumping out.”
The three-time world champion from Rollinsville, Colo., was in Carson City over the weekend to defend his title during the Nevada Day festivities.
The sport harkens back to Nevada’s mining days before the Industrial Revolution, and Hoyl, a six-year veteran of the competition, knows to expect some injuries from dislodged pieces of steel.
“Usually, I shake it off and get back on the horse,” he said. “But this time was so severe, I had to bow out.”
It took him a minute to figure that out, though. “I didn’t know how bad it was at first,” he said. “I actually called out for a Band-Aid.”
Fellow driller and medical doctor Brock Boscovich of Reno finally jumped up on the podium and persuaded Hoyl to quit. “He told me, ‘If you keep going you’re going to bleed out,'” Hoyl recalled.
Boscovich helped the stop the bleeding until an ambulance took Hoyl to Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center, where an X-ray showed that the largest piece of metal had been dislodged by the pumping blood.
Two smaller pieces of metal remain, which Hoyl plans to extract himself.
“I just need to find a big enough magnet,” he said.
Despite the impressive display of blood spurting into the air, he said, the only remaining evidence of the injury is a small bandage on his arm.
“It seems so insignificant at this point,” he said. “But it cost me the championship.”
During the contest, competitors have 10 minutes to pound drills into a slab of granite. The deepest hole wins.
At around the 5-minute mark, Hoyl had drilled nearly 7 inches. The winning drill, hammered in by Tom Donovan of Reno, was 13 inches.
“I was on pace to win the race,” Hoyl lamented. “It was horribly disappointing. It was completely unexpected.”
Despite this year’s injury, spectators can expect to see the blacksmith at next year’s competition.
“I have to get my title back,” he said.